Senators-Red Wings Preview
The Ottawa Senators have played better defensively in the last two games and hope that continues with the acquisition of a veteran blueliner ahead of the trade deadline.
Dion Phaneuf is expected to debut for the visiting Senators as they try for a third consecutive victory Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Though currently out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference, Ottawa (25-23-6) has reason to feel good with back-to-back wins following a 1-5-0 stretch. The Senators held a players' meeting after their third straight defeat, 7-2 to Edmonton at home Thursday, then responded by outscoring Toronto and Tampa Bay 11-2.
''You're at the point in your schedule and in the season where there's no margin for error here,'' coach Dave Cameron said.
Ottawa hasn't won three straight since a four-game run Nov. 19-25, but the outspoken Phaneuf appears ready to help. He was acquired Tuesday from Toronto for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Tobias Lindberg and a second-round 2017 pick. Ottawa also will receive forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert, and defensive prospect Cody Donaghey.
"From our point of view it's a trade that will give us a little more security on the back end," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said. "(Phaneuf is) a real good person. He competes. He wants to win ... We don't expect him to be a savior. We expect him to be the player he is."
Despite the presence of two-time Norris Trophy winner and leading scorer Erik Karlsson, the Senators rank near the bottom of the league allowing 3.07 goals per game and are last while killing off 74.6 percent of their penalties. Though the 11-year veteran is a minus-15 since the start of last season, Phaneuf's experience provides an upgrade and another possible mentor for talented young defenseman Cody Ceci.
A three-time All-Star, Phaneuf has 424 career points and was tied for the Maple Leafs' lead with 21 assists this season. In a move that should also allow both clubs to shed some salary, the 30-year-old former Toronto captain has five years left on a contract that draws a salary-cap hit of $7 million.
"We're excited to have him," injured forward Clarke MacArthur, who played with Phaneuf in Toronto, told the Senators' official Twitter feed.
The Senators look to continue their defensive improvement after killing all seven penalties in two contests to follow a three-game stretch in which their opponents went 6 for 10 on the power play. Craig Anderson posted a 5.63 goals-against average during a three-game skid, but has stopped 57 of 59 shots in the last two.
"If you let your foot off the pedal and get back on your heels, you put your confidence in jeopardy again because your play will be in jeopardy," Cameron told the NHL's official website. "It's just a matter of sticking to it now."
Mark Stone, meanwhile, has five goals and three assists in four games after going without a point in the previous eight.
''Once you get that little confidence, that little swagger back you feel comfortable every night,'' said Stone, who had two goals and an assist in Monday's 5-1 rout of Tampa Bay.
Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist in the Senators' 3-1 win at Detroit on Oct. 30, but the Red Wings (27-18-8) totaled nine goals to win the next two at Ottawa.
Looking to improve its playoff position in the East, Detroit has followed a season-worst 0-4-1 home slide by outscoring the New York Islanders and Florida 8-1 to win the last two at Joe Louis.
''Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come,'' said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, whose team last won three straight at home during a four-game run Dec. 1-10.
Pavel Datsyuk has four points in two games after scoring twice in Monday's 3-0 victory over the Panthers.
Petr Mrazek, who made 23 saves for his second shutout in five starts, has won nine of 12 and owns a 1.18 GAA with a .955 save percentage in his last 11. He stopped 33 shots during a 5-3 victory at Ottawa on Halloween.
Teammate Henrik Zetterberg had two assists Monday, and has two with a goal against Ottawa this season.
Stone has a goal and three assists against the Red Wings in 2015-16.
Anderson, however, has a 3.93 ERA during an 0-2-2 slump against Detroit.