Wild host Sens in clash of surging clubs

( - An excellent month of February has vaulted the Minnesota Wild into a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

A season-high winning streak has the Ottawa Senators hoping to make a similar run.

The Sens take aim at a sixth victory in a row on Tuesday evening when they visit the Wild.

Ottawa has won the first three contests of a five-game road trip to push its overall winning streak to five in a row. The Sens haven't won six consecutive games since Oct. 20-30, 2011, but are in position to do just that following wins over Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose to begin this trip.

Mike Hoffman upped his NHL rookie-leading goal total to 23 with a pair of tallies in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Sharks. Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson also scored as the Senators sit seven points behind the Boston Bruins for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.

"I think we showed everyone around our dressing room that we can play and we're a good team in this league when we want to be," Hoffman said. "Beating these three teams here is never something easy to do. So we're making a good push here. We're going strong and we just got to keep it going."

Andrew Hammond made 28 saves and has now won the first five starts of his NHL career. He entered Saturday's contest having shut out the Ducks and Kings in his two previous outings.

Hammond was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday as he has provided a big spark to the Sens following injuries to Craig Anderson (bruised hand) and Robin Lehner (concussion). Anderson, though, was activated off of injured reserve on Sunday and is expected to start on Wednesday when the Sens wrap their road trip versus Winnipeg.

The Wild also have gotten a big boost from a fresh face in goal, with Devan Dubnyk sparking the club to a 13-2-1 record over the past 16 games. He was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in January and was named to league's top star for the month of February, leading the league in wins while going 11-2-1 with a 1.64 goals against average and .939 save percentage.

Dubnyk tied Niklas Backstrom's franchise record with a 20th straight start in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, making 33 saves. He figures to break that mark tonight and is 1-0-0 in two games (1 start) against the Sens with a 1.80 GAA and .933 save percentage.

Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula had a goal and an assist, and Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who have won five of their last six and own a three- point edge for the second wild card spot in the West.

"The confidence is growing every game and it's great to play with these guys," said Haula. "We've got to make sure we start fast and get the shifts going."

Minnesota added a pair of players prior to Monday's trade deadline to help for its playoff push, getting forward Chris Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Jordan Leopold from Columbus.

Stewart notched 11 goals and 14 assists in 61 games with the Sabres this season, while Leopold had posted a goal and two assists in 18 games with the Blue Jackets after they acquired him from the St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota sent a second-round pick to Buffalo for Stewart, while Leopold was swapped for blueliner Justin Falk and a fifth-round selection.

The Wild have lost two straight and eight of their past nine versus the Senators, including a 3-0 loss in Ottawa on Nov. 6. Backstrom yielded three goals on 17 shots in the loss.

Anderson made 35 saves and Hoffman scored twice for Ottawa, which has won four straight in Minnesota.