The Ottawa Senators have seen their playoff chances take a hit thanks to a recent losing streak.
The sliding Sens will try to halt a five-game funk and get their postseason quest back on the right track when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers for Thursday's test at Wells Fargo Center.
The 0-5-0 losing streak has hurt Ottawa's postseason chances and the club enters Thursday's action tied with the New York clubs for the last three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers, Islanders and Senators each have 44 points on the year, but Ottawa has a game in hand over the other two clubs.
The Rangers are off on Thursday, while the Islanders are playing in Boston.
Three of the Senators' five losses during the skid have come by one-goal margins, including Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Tampa. Steven Stamkos scored the game-winning goal with 5:04 left in the final period to lift the Lightning to the close victory.
A Sergei Gonchar penalty put the Lightning on the power play with 5:20 left. Tampa Bay got the puck into the Ottawa zone. Martin St. Louis passed the disc to Vincent Lecavalier to the right of the goal. Stamkos darted to the net and pounded home a feed from Lecavalier. The Lightning went 2-for-7 on the power play in Tuesday's win.
Daniel Alfredsson and Guillaume Latendresse both lit the lamp for Ottawa, which is mired in the club's longest skid since it went 0-6-1 from Jan. 21-Feb 7, 2012.
"The penalties are the penalties," Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said. "They were penalties. This time of year, you have to take hits to make plays and you have to expect that you're going to get hit and you can't just retaliate and take penalties. That puts your team in a bad spot. A number of the penalties we took tonight we didn't have to."
Craig Anderson made 21 saves in the setback and fell to 0-2 since returning from an ankle injury.
The loss in Tampa dropped Ottawa to 0-4 on season-long seven-game road trip. The Sens are just 6-11-3 as the guest this season compared to a 13-3-3 mark at home.
While the Sens' recent skid has damaged their postseason chances, Ottawa's playoff prospects are still much rosier than Philadelphia's. The Flyers are 12th in the East and seven points out of the conference's final playoff spot with just nine games left in the regular season.
Philadelphia has lost two straight in regulation on the heels of a season-best four-game winning streak. Both setbacks have come by identical 4-1 scores and the latest loss was Tuesday's defeat to the New York Islanders.
John Tavares and Casey Cizikas scored 28 seconds apart late in regulation to help the Islanders down Philadelphia, 4-1, at Nassau Coliseum. It was the Flyers' first loss on Long Island since a 6-4 setback on April 1, 2010. Philadelphia had won seven straight at the Coliseum before Tuesday's setback.
Jakub Voracek's first-period strike was the sole offense for the Flyers. Meanwhile, Steve Mason's first Philadelphia start didn't go as planned, despite the former Columbus netminder stopping 28 pucks. Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to get the start on Thursday.
"It's frustrating," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "You can't just expect to score one goal and win a game. You got to continue to push it. Mason played great for us. He was really solid back there."
The Flyers could get forward Danny Briere back from a concussion on Thursday after he sat out the last nine games. Briere, who has a disappointing five goals and eight assists in 26 games this season, is questionable for this evening.
In other injury news, Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann will likely miss the rest of the season with a concussion. Grossmann, who hasn't played since March 18, will miss another 2-to-3 weeks of action, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. In addition to Grossmann, the Flyers will also be without injured defensemen Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Marc-Andre Bourdon tonight.
Philadelphia does own a solid 12-5-2 record at home this season and will try for a fourth straight win at Wells Fargo Center tonight.
The Flyers beat the Sens, 2-1, in regulation on March 2 in the only meeting between the clubs this season. Philly has won three of five in the series overall and Ottawa has dropped four of its past five in the City of Brotherly Love.