After having little success on a recent five-game homestand, the Ottawa Senators hope to have more luck when they kick off a road trip tonight by battling the Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Times Forum.
The Senators went 1-2-2 on their recent stay at Scotiabank Place, bringing the struggling club's record over its last nine games to 1-6-2. Ottawa, which will also visit Florida and the Islanders during its three-game swing, has lost four straight on the road and is 13-11-5 as the guest this year.
The recent struggles have hurt the team's playoff chances, but the Sens are still currently in the Eastern Conference postseason picture. Ottawa is seventh in the conference and is two points ahead of eighth-seeded Toronto.
The Lightning, meanwhile, have not done much to help their own postseason prospects in February. The club is just 2-2-2 this month after ending January on a five-game winning streak. Tampa is tied with Buffalo and the Islanders in the East standings and is eight points out of a postseason berth.
The Sens ended a seven-game losing streak with a win over Nashville on Thursday, but Ottawa then closed its homestand with Saturday's overtime loss to Edmonton. Taylor Hall scored 17 seconds into OT to lift the Oilers to the 4-3 win at Scotiabank Place.
"We played pretty good," Alfredsson said. "It's encouraging to see the way we're playing and skating. There were still a few lapses."
Tampa Bay has lost three of its last four games and posted a 1-1-1 record during a recent three-game road trip that ended with Sunday's regulation setback in Pittsburgh. The Bolts, who are beginning a four-game homestand tonight, are 15-8-2 in Tampa this season compared to a dreadful 9-17-4 mark on the road.
The Lightning received two first-period goals from Steve Downie on Sunday, but Pittsburgh scored four unanswered to take the 4-2 decision. Downie's goals came just 11 seconds apart at 9:58 and 10:09 of the first period, setting a franchise record for the quickest two goals by one player.
"We didn't play our best game and it cost us two points," said Garon.
Tampa forward Ryan Malone missed his seventh straight game on Sunday with an upper-body injury, but he could return tonight. Matt Gilroy sat out Sunday after suffering an upper-body injury in Tampa's previous game, while fellow defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron has sat out three straight with a back problem. Both blueliners are questionable for tonight.
Ottawa is 2-0 against the Lightning this year, but both of those previous encounters were staged at Scotiabank Place. The Sens have won four of five overall in this series and the Lightning have won three of the last four meetings in Tampa.