Senators-Flames Preview

Back in the win column following the Olympic break, the Ottawa

Senators look for continued success on their three-game trip in

Western Canada.

The Senators hope to keep getting their offense back on track

Thursday when they face a surging Calgary Flames team back in the

top eight in the Western Conference.

Ottawa (37-25-5) won 14 of 16 before the Olympic break and

entered the two-week hiatus with a one-point lead over Buffalo atop

the Northeast Division. The Senators, though, went 0-2-1 following

the break prior to Tuesday’s 4-1 victory at Edmonton.

They scored only one goal in each game during the losing streak,

failing to muster more than 26 shots in any of them. Ottawa had 39

shots Tuesday and two power-play goals in the third period after

scoring one in the previous three games combined.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson felt Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss to

Toronto provided a key step in the right direction.

“We didn’t play well the first two games after the Olympics but

we had a gutsy effort to build from in our last one (against

Toronto) with a bunch of guys sick,” said Alfredsson, who missed

Saturday’s game with the flu before matching a season high with

three assists against the Oilers.

“That carried into tonight. I thought we played a strong game.

The biggest thing was having a strong effort and getting the power

play going in the third.”

The Senators, whose trip ends Saturday against Northwest

Division-leading Vancouver, are looking for back-to-back road wins

for the first time since a six-game run Jan. 14-Feb. 3. However,

they have lost three straight in Calgary since a 1-0 victory Jan.

9, 2003.

Ottawa snapped a five-game slide to the Flames (33-24-9) on Feb.

9 with a 3-2 home win. Jarkko Ruutu, Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev

scored for the Senators while Brian Elliott made 27 saves in his

first career start versus Calgary.

Elliott, expected to be in net again Thursday, has been

outstanding in his last 16 starts, going 13-3-0 with a 2.15

goals-against average. Now he faces a Flames club averaging 4.7

goals during its three-game winning streak.

Calgary moved a point ahead of Detroit for the eighth and final

playoff spot in the West with Tuesday’s 4-2 road victory over the

Red Wings.

“Every game is such a big game and we have to treat each one

like a playoff game,” said coach Brent Sutter, whose team hasn’t

won four in a row since a 5-0-0 stretch from Dec. 28-Jan. 5.

Captain Jarome Iginla has four goals and three assists during

this win streak.

He snapped a 19-game goal-scoring drought against Detroit and

now tries for his first goal in nine home games against the

Senators since Dec. 10, 1996. Iginla had two assists in the Feb. 9

loss in Ottawa.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves in that matchup, losing for the

first time in six career starts against the Senators.

Kiprusoff, who has allowed seven goals in two home starts since

the Olympic break, needs one victory to reach 30 for the fifth

consecutive season.

Rene Bourque, one goal shy of matching his career high of 21

after scoring the game-winner Tuesday, posted his first career hat

trick in the Senators’ last visit to Pengrowth Saddledome as the

Flames won 6-3 on Dec. 27, 2008.