(SportsNetwork.com) - The 2013-14 season has largely been a disappointing one for the Ottawa Senators so far, but the club hopes to start anew when it begins the post-Olympics schedule with Thursday's home tilt against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Senators, a playoff team in each of the past two seasons, are only three points behind Detroit for the last postseason berth in the Eastern Conference, but Ottawa has struggled with consistency in 2013-14.
Ottawa posted a 9-2-3 record during one of its best stretches of the season from Dec. 28-Jan. 30, but the club then went 2-2-1 to begin the month of February. The Sens also ended their pre-Olympics slate by losing 7-2 to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 8.
The Sens have one game at home before jetting off to Vancouver, where it will play an outdoor game against the Canucks on Saturday. The game at BC Place, which features a retractable roof, kicks off a four-game road trip for Ottawa.
Star defenseman Erik Karlsson is coming off an Olympic run that saw him help Team Sweden pick up a silver medal at the recent Sochi Games, and he is eager to aid the Senators in the push to the playoffs.
"I'm looking forward to start playing hockey here again," Karlsson told the Senators official website. "It feels like the vibe is good in the room and we're looking forward to the last stretch here."
Karlsson was a teammate of former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson at the Olympics and his countryman will play his third career game against Ottawa on Thursday. Alfredsson spent his first 17 NHL seasons with the Senators before leaving to sign with Detroit over the summer.
Alfredsson, who was greeted with a standing ovation by the Ottawa crowd when he returned to Scotiabank Place on Dec. 1, has one goal and one assist in his two games against the Senators this season.
On the injury front, Ottawa forward Clarke MacArthur and defenseman Chris Phillips headed into the Olympic break with injuries, but both players are expected to be ready to go for Thursday's game.
Ottawa is 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season, but Detroit has won five of the last seven meetings against the Senators overall. The Wings have won three straight, four of five and six of the past eight meetings at Scotiabank Place.
The Red Wings earned a victory in their first game after the break, downing the Montreal Canadiens in overtime on Wednesday. Gustav Nyquist scored with just 27.3 seconds remaining in the extra session to help lift Detroit to the 2-1 road win.
Detroit allowed the Canadiens to tie the game on Brian Gionta's goal with just 28.7 seconds left in regulation but recovered to win the tilt in OT.
Johan Franzen, returning from a concussion that sidelined him for 22 of Detroit's final 23 contests prior to the stoppage, assisted on Nyquist's game- winner as well as Todd Bertuzzi's first-period power-play goal. Jimmy Howard stopped 19-of-20 shots to help the Red Wings improve to 4-1-1 over their last six outings.
"We played a great game. We didn't give them much room," said Franzen.
Detroit is playing the third test of a four-game road trip that began before the Olympics. The Red Wings, who are 16-9-4 as the guest this season, will cap the swing Tuesday in New Jersey.