Sens try to build momentum vs. Oilers

Published February 11, 2012

| Sports Network

With a lengthy losing streak finally over, the Ottawa Senators hope they can keep heading in the right direction when they host the Edmonton Oilers today at Scotiabank Place.

The Senators went 0-6-1 from Jan. 21-Feb. 7, but ended the slide with Thursday's regulation win over visiting Nashville. It marked Ottawa's first victory since Jan. 19 and improved the Senators to 15-11-2 as the host this season. The Sens are 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand that ends this afternoon.

Despite the recent slide, the Senators are still in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They're currently sitting seventh in the East, one ahead of Toronto and two in front of ninth-seeded Washington.

Jason Spezza played a huge role in ending Ottawa's longest skid of the season, as the centerman netted two goals and added an assist to lift the Sens to a 4-3 decision over the Predators. Spezza scored the first goal of the game and also put Ottawa ahead 3-2 with another score late in the second period.

"We were fortunate enough to get the first goal of the game," Spezza said. "It's a much easier league to play in when you're playing with the lead. We saw the product of that tonight, we got the lead and were able to hold on."

Chris Phillips -- playing in his 1,000th NHL game -- also contributed in a big way with a pair of goals, including the eventual game-winner at 6:25 of the third. Milan Michalek and Bobby Butler added a pair of assists apiece for the Senators, while Alex Auld made 24 saves in the victory.

Following today's game, the Senators will head out on a three-game road trip, beginning with Tuesday's stop in Tampa.

Edmonton will try to snap a two-game slide this afternoon after losing the first two tests of a three-game road trip in regulation. The Oilers' latest loss came Wednesday evening in Detroit, where practically nobody has had success this year other than the Red Wings.

The Oilers were tied with Detroit 2-2 heading into the third, but Drew Miller and Henrik Zetterberg both scored in the final 20 minutes to help the Red Wings record a 4-2 victory and extend their club-record home winning streak to 18 games.

Edmonton center Sam Gagner continued his recent tear with two goals in the loss and now has eight in his past four games. Including an eight-point effort against Chicago last Thursday, he now has eight goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak.

Nikolai Khabibulin allowed all four goals on 30 shots for the Oilers, who are 13 points out of a playoff spot in the West.

The Oilers will again play without rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has missed the last two games after aggravating a shoulder injury.

Edmonton has a dreadful 6-20-2 record as the road team this year and has lost its last eight as the guest. The Oilers' last victory away from Edmonton came on Jan. 2 in Chicago.

The Senators posted a 5-2 win in Edmonton on Nov. 17 in the first of two scheduled meetings between these clubs this season. Ottawa has taken two straight and eight of nine overall in the series, while the Oilers are just 1-2-2 with a tie in their last six trips to Canada's capital city.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/02/11/sens-try-to-build-momentum-vs-oilers/