Predators-Senators Preview

Ales Hemsky certainly isn’t sad any more, and he’ll try to make the Ottawa Senators even happier.

The recently acquired Hemsky looks to build on a promising performance with the Senators while helping them to another victory over the last-place Nashville Predators on Monday night.

Ottawa (28-25-11) obtained the forward from Edmonton for two draft picks before last Wednesday’s trade deadline.

It took the right wing two games to make an offensive impact for the Senators, getting a season-high three assists in a 5-3 win at Winnipeg.

"It’s weird," said Hemsky, who spent 10-plus seasons with the Oilers before being put on Ottawa’s top line. "You spend your whole career in one place and then you kind of realize you’ve come to the end. It’s sad because I had a lot of great people there, even the locker room was great, and everybody treated me really well.

"I was sad, but in the end I was excited to come here and play those type of games and battle for the playoffs."

The Senators are surely thrilled as they attempt to mount a run at a playoff spot. They’re four points behind Columbus and Detroit for the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

"He’s an extremely offensively talented player," said captain Jason Spezza, who was playmaker with Hemsky on two goals and also had three assists overall. "I seem like I can read off him fairly easily. I’ve watched him play a lot. He’s really good with the puck, he’s got that short stick, protects it really well and is a good passer."

Hemsky has four goals and three assists in his last six meetings with Nashville, while Spezza has three and six in his past six matchups.

Spezza failed to get a point against the Predators on Jan. 11, but he came through with the decisive shootout tally in a 2-1 road win.

Ottawa has won three in a row versus Nashville, and Spezza’s three points powered a 4-3 victory in the latest matchup at Canadian Tire Centre on Feb. 9, 2012.

The Predators are mired in a 1-5-2 stretch and trying to avoid a third five-game losing streak that would match a season high.

They lost 1-0 to Columbus on Saturday after failing to capitalize on a 14-5 shot advantage in the first period. Nashville was outshot 31-14 the rest of the way, enduring its eighth shutout loss – tying a league high.

The Predators – outscored 9-3 during their 0-4-0 skid – have been blanked an NHL-high 41 times over the past six seasons.

"We’ve been shooting enough pucks, we’re just not finding the back of the net," coach Barry Trotz said. "There are a lot of dry players."

Craig Smith and Shea Weber are among them.

Smith leads the team with a career-high 18 goals, but he’s come up empty in six straight since scoring twice in a 3-2 overtime loss at Minnesota on Feb. 6. The center hasn’t managed at point in two career meetings with Ottawa, failing to find the net on four shots Jan. 11.

Weber also has failed to score in his last three games versus the Senators. The defenseman has two points – both assists – in eight games, and none during the four-game skid.

Pekka Rinne will likely get a fourth straight start since returning from a hip infection that sidelined him for 51 games. He’s compiled a 2.04 goals-against average and .922 save percentage while losing his first three games, and made a season-high 35 stops against the Blue Jackets.

He’s 1-3-0 with a 3.28 GAA against Ottawa.