OTTAWA — — The Ottawa Senators seem to have a firm grip on the defensively responsible system coach Guy Boucher wants them to play.
Now they have to rediscover their scoring touch.
The Senators hope that comes Friday when they play host to the Los Angeles Kings, a team that will be trying to catch its breath.
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Ottawa (8-5-0) surrendered more than two goals just once in the six games its played since Oct. 28. They've won four of them, including a 2-1 shootout in Buffalo on Wednesday.
At the same time, most of its top players remain in scoring ruts, leaving Ottawa 26th in goals scored.
The Senators power play is particularly cold, operating at an 11.1 percent efficiency percentage (four goals on 36 chances) that is also ranked 26th.
“You just need one,” said winger Mark Stone, who skates on the top line with Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan — a threesome that has a combined five goals, including three by Ryan. “We're struggling, but we still feel like we're playing well, creating a lot. We just need one to kind of take a little bit of a deep breath.”
While the Senators play nine of their next 12 at Canadian Tire Centre, the Kings will be looking at their third game in four nights. Los Angeles started a five-stop road trip with a 7-0 victory in Toronto on Tuesday before falling 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Kings (7-7-0).
“They got us from behind quite a bit, forced us to turn the puck over,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after the setback. “Some of our faster players weren't on their game tonight.”
Winger Tyler Toffoli scored the Kings' goal, the first by the first unit power play since opening night.
“That's obviously not good,” said center Anze Kopitar. “We pride ourselves on being the motor of this team and power play is one of those things. That was obviously an encouraging goal but we've got to keep on building. We can't go on slumps like we have been. We've got to keep hammering away, keep making the plays and taking shots that are there. We'll get it done.”
With goalie Peter Budaj getting playing in Montreal, it's expected Jeff Zatkoff will start between the pipes in Ottawa.
Zatkoff has faced the Senators once in his NHL career, stopping 33 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
The Senators are expected to start No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, unless he leaves the team for a third time to be with his wife Nicholle as she battles cancer. Anderson lost his last outing by a 3-1 score Tuesday in Nashville, then watched from the bench as backup Mike Condon beat the Sabres. The Senators were outshot 8-0 in overtime before Ryan ended the night with the shootout winner.
While Anderson is having a solid start (6-3-0), he hasn't fared well against the Kings. His lifetime record versus Los Angeles is 3-7-4, including a 3.71 goals against average and a .871 save percentage.