Senators-Wild Preview

Moral victories have the Ottawa Senators gaining confidence.

Some actual wins would be much better.

The Senators will try to turn another strong effort on the ice

into a positive outcome when they visit the struggling Minnesota

Wild on Thursday night.

Ottawa (13-16-3) is 4-9-2 since a stretch of seven wins in nine

games concluded more than a month ago. The club has been outscored

24-9 while dropping five of six on the road since.

Despite those struggles, the Senators are feeling positive about

their recent play. They overcame a three-goal deficit to force

overtime Monday against Atlanta, though they fell 4-3 in the extra


“We’re happy with how we played in the last couple of games and

it’s definitely something to build on,” coach Cory Clouston told

the team’s official website. “You have to be able to build on

something. Otherwise, why don’t you just throw in the towel? And

we’re not ready to do that.

“So we played well (Monday) and we came back … We’re not happy

with the loss but we definitely are happy with the way we played.

That’s all we can focus on right now.”

Consistent scoring from Daniel Alfredsson would help Ottawa’s


The star right wing, who leads the team with 19 points, scored

for the first time in 12 games Monday to end his career-worst

10-game point drought.

Alfredsson has two goals and seven assists in eight games

against Minnesota (13-12-4).

Ottawa is 6-2-0 with a tie all-time against the Wild, winning

each of the last four meetings including a 4-1 home victory Dec.

19, 2009. The Senators’ last visit to Minnesota was a 5-3 win Feb.

14, 2009.

This is the only home contest in a six-game stretch for the

Wild, who return for a brief stay after splitting a four-game road


Minnesota turned in a shaky effort in Sunday’s 6-2 loss at

Anaheim, getting outshot 36-22.

Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves against the Ducks and could

return to the bench in favor of Jose Theodore, as a goaltending

controversy appears to be brewing.

Backstrom is 1-4-1 with a 4.80 goals-against average in his last

six games, while Theodore is 1-2-1 with a 2.93 GAA in his four most

recent starts. Theodore’s 24-save performance Saturday helped the

Wild to a 3-2 overtime win at Los Angeles.

“We take it game by game,” coach Todd Richards said of the

goaltending situation. “If one of them steps to the forefront and

can run with the ball, then that’s what we’ll do. Theo has been

pretty good as far as consistency. We didn’t help (Backstrom) out

in Anaheim, but he also needed to be sharper.

“The thing that we look out too is numbers. Who’s got good

numbers against teams playing at home or on the road. A lot of

times we make decisions based on that.”

That could mean Theodore will be back in net, as he’s 2-1-1 with

a 2.71 GAA in his last four meetings with the Senators. Backstrom

is 0-1-0 with a 4.21 GAA in two matchups, including getting pulled

the last time the Wild hosted Ottawa.