Resurgent Blue Jackets gaining confidence
Despite the efforts of two-way star Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators coach Dave Cameron is questioning his team's physicality as it continues to let points slip away.
Ottawa's homestand isn't getting any easier against the resurgent Columbus Blue Jackets.
A red-hot Karlsson and the Senators hope to avoid a third straight loss and eighth in 11 home games Thursday night against the Blue Jackets, who have won a season-best three in a row.
Ottawa (8-5-5) hoped to make a positive push during a season-high five-game stay. But after a 3-2 win over Vancouver in the opener, it suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday and a 4-3 overtime defeat to Detroit on Monday.
The Senators rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period against the Red Wings as defenseman Chris Wideman scored and Bobby Ryan had a tying goal with less than three minutes left. Tomas Tatar, however, scored for Detroit just over two minutes into overtime.
"You've got to block shots, you've got to win your battles on the wall," Cameron told the team's official website. "We're trying to do it stick-checking and finessing it in. That don't work in this league."
While Ottawa has gone 5-2-1 on the road, it's 3-3-4 at Canadian Tire Centre. Karlsson has been a bright spot with a six-game point streak (two goals, five assists) at home and three goals and three assists over his last four overall.
The reigning Norris Trophy winner, who ranks near the top of the NHL among defensemen with 15 assists and 18 points, had a career-high four assists in a 7-3 win at Columbus on Oct. 14. He has five goals and seven assists in his past eight meetings.
Columbus, however, appears to be a much different team than the one Ottawa faced in that game. Following a forgettable 0-8-0 start, the Blue Jackets have won seven of 11 after Tuesday's 3-1 home victory over St. Louis.
Brandon Saad had his first two-goal game and moved into a tie with Boone Jenner for the team lead with nine. Cody Goloubef also scored as Columbus (7-12-0) outshot the Blues 38-20.
"As we're stringing more wins together, we're feeling more confident," Saad said. "It shows out there."
The Blue Jackets have fought off 18 consecutive power plays. Sergei Bobrovsky has played a role in that effort and is 7-3-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average since posting a 4.72 mark in an 0-6-0 start.
He's expected to get a chance to avenge last month's loss to Ottawa. Bobrovsky allowed six goals on 26 shots after going 4-2-1 with a 2.13 GAA in his previous seven meetings.
The Senators have excelled on the power play, converting 7 of 14 opportunities over their last five games. Milan Michalek has a team-high three goals with a man advantage.
Craig Anderson has given up four or more goals twice in his last three starts, but he's likely to get the nod after going 7-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA in his last eight against Columbus.
Defenseman Jared Cowen could return after missing the last two games with a foot injury for Ottawa, which has gone 7-2-1 in the past 10 meetings.