Hobbled Sens host Bruins in Northeast battle
The Ottawa Senators have been able to hang around in the playoff hunt despite a number of injuries this season to some of their top players.
The Sens hope that their luck doesn't run out on Thursday evening when they try to snap a 10-game series home losing streak to the Boston Bruins.
Ottawa is holding firm at fifth place in the Eastern Conference this season with 38 points despite currently being without their No. 1 goaltender in Craig Anderson, top blueliner Erik Karlsson and scoring threats Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
Anderson has not played since suffering a sprained right ankle on Feb. 21 versus the New York Rangers and has no return date set, while Karlsson is lost for the season due to left Achilles surgery. Spezza hasn't played since late January because of back surgery, but is hopeful to return this season. Michalek, meanwhile, just underwent right knee surgery and is out indefinitely, having missed 15 of Ottawa's past 17 games.
Still, the Sens begin a five-game homestand on Thursday having won three straight and with points in six in a row (4-0-2). They are 9-2-4 in their past 15 games, including a 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Ottawa trailed by two goals heading into the third period, but notched four goals in the final frame. Sergei Gonchar had the game-tying tally with one minute to play and Guillaume Latendresse scored into an empty net.
"We definitely didn't have our best first two periods, but we've got great leadership in here," said goaltender Ben Bishop, who made 26 saves. "There's not one guy in here who is going to quit."
Matt Kassian, Jakob Silfverberg and Zack Smith all added goals, Gonchar had two assists and Daniel Alfredsson picked up the 1,100th point of his career with an assist on Latendresse's goal.
"I didn't know until I got into the room. It feels good -- coming in a win like this makes it nicer," Alfredsson said.
Of course, it wouldn't be the Senators if they didn't suffer an injury and defenseman Marc Methot left in the second period with a lower body issue.
The Sens need all the help they can get tonight as they haven't won at home versus the Bruins since April 7, 2009. Boston has taken 11 of the last 12 encounters overall as well, including the first two of five meetings this season.
The Bruins are three points ahead of the Senators for fourth in the East and trail the Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens by two points. Boston is an excellent 19-6-3 on the campaign, but three of those regulation losses have come in the last five games.
The Bruins dropped their second in a row on Tuesday, falling 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets.
Brad Marchand scored a second-period tally in his 200th NHL game, but the Jets scored three times in the third. Tuukka Rask made 22 saves in defeat.
"It's becoming a habit. It's not acceptable," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "We should be (ticked) off in here."
Center David Krejci did not play after suffering a knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and is doubtful for this game, while defenseman Adam McQuaid suffered an upper body injury against the Jets.