Senators look to tame Wild with strong defense
OTTAWA -- - When the Ottawa Senators were looking for a new coach last spring, Bruce Boudreau was a leading candidate.
But after he was interviewed, Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher swooped in and hired the 61-year old former bench boss of the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. Senators GM Pierre Dorion almost immediately signed Guy Boucher, insisting he was always the team's first choice.
At this point, both men are making a positive impact in their new surroundings.
The Wild and Senators face off at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday for the first time this season, each with a winning record. The Senators have cleaned up defensively, which was their top priority. They are 9-5-0 and have won five of their last seven games, holding opponents to only eight goals over that span.
The Wild dropped a 3-2 decision in Philadelphia on Saturday as their record slipped to 7-5-1, but have also allowed a league-low 27 goals. Minnesota is 1-3 in its last four games but prior to that stretch had three consecutive shutouts.
The Wild got off to a good start against the Flyers when winger Nino Niederreiter scored 21 seconds into the game, but ultimately lost a 2-1 lead just past the midway mark of the second period and could never catch up.
"If you can score the first shift you are doing something right," said center Eric Staal, who assisted on the goal and has points in seven of his team's last eight games. "After that I don't think we did enough."
The Wild chose to go with No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk against the Flyers, which means Darcy Kuemper will start in goal against the Senators.
After winning only six times in 21 games last season, Kuemper is 1-1 while giving up eight goals in 2016-2017.
The Senators are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday that saw them rally with two goals in the last 3:54 of the third.
Craig Anderson starts in goal for the Senators, who are averaging 2.29 goals per game against that is ranked 27th in the league.
"You just have to keep the faith," Anderson said when asked Friday about his lack of support. "You just don't know when the offense will come. We started to get momentum in the third and it was just a matter of time. The guys were playing hard and we're keeping things out of our end really well and giving ourselves opportunity."
The Wild will be without top line winger Zach Parise (lower body), defenseman Marco Scandella (high ankle sprain) and winger Zac Dalpe (knee).
Defenseman Chris Wideman skated with the Senators on Saturday but after missing six games with an injury will need a little more practice time before getting his spot back in the lineup.