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Sens seek fifth straight victory in clash with 'Canes

The playoff-bound Ottawa Senators will shoot for a fifth straight victory when they host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Senators clinched their second playoff spot in three seasons with Sunday's 5-1 road rout of the New York Islanders. Ottawa is returning to the postseason after finishing 13th in the East with just 74 points last season.

Ottawa still has postseason positioning to play for, as it enters today four points behind New Jersey for the sixth seed in the East and four points ahead of eighth-seeded Washington. The Devils play the Islanders tonight and have three games left in the regular season, while Washington is off this evening and has two tilts remaining on its schedule.

Kyle Turris finished with two goals and two assists as the Senators blew past the Islanders for their fourth consecutive win. Milan Michalek had a goal and two helpers, while Sergei Gonchar and Nick Foligno contributed a goal and an assist each for Ottawa. Craig Anderson posted 29 stops in the win.

"It feels great. It's tough not being there," Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said of the return to the playoffs.

The Senators were able to earn the important win despite not having key forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza in the lineup on Sunday. Spezza sat out the contest to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter and is expected to return tonight. Alfredsson missed the game with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for this evening.

Ottawa's four straight wins are the most in a row for the club since its six-game winning streak from Oct. 20-30. The Senators are 20-15-4 as the host this year and are playing the first of two straight on home ice tonight. Ottawa will close its regular season Saturday afternoon in New Jersey.

The Hurricanes have been eliminated from playoff contention and have dropped four of their last five games.

Carolina last played on Saturday, when it was dealt a 5-0 loss by the visiting Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk led New Jersey's offensive attack with a goal and two assists, while Brian Boucher stopped 26-of-31 shots for the Hurricanes.

"I thought we had a decent start in the first five minutes or so, and after that they seemed to take over," Boucher said. "They just kept coming in waves. They got a goal before the end of the period and scored two quick ones in the second and that was pretty much it."

Two of Carolina's final three games of the season are on the road, where the Hurricanes have a dismal 12-18-9 record this year.

The 'Canes have taken four of their last six meetings with Ottawa overall, but the Senators have seven wins in their last eight home tests against Carolina.