(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators hope to continue their strong start to the season when they shoot for a fourth straight victory in Saturday's home test against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Senators made the playoffs in 2012 and 2013 under head coach Paul MacLean before missing the postseason tournament last spring. The disappointing 2013-14 campaign put MacLean on the hot seat heading into the new season, but his troops are off to a much better start this time around.
Ottawa needed nine games to reach four wins last season, but could reach that mark in the fifth tilt of 2014-15 with a victory tonight. The Sens began this season with a loss in Nashville before picking up three straight wins against Tampa Bay, Florida and Colorado.
The Senators used a third-period offensive outburst to down the Avalanche, 5-3, on Thursday. It was Ottawa's first home game of the season and the Sens kicked off a four-game homestand at Canadian Tire Centre with a thrilling comeback win.
Ottawa trailed the Avs 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period before climbing back into the game. David Legwand scored the lone goal of the second period to cut the deficit to 3-2 before the Sens notched three more markers in the final stanza.
Bobby Ryan tied the contest at 8:39 of the third and Clark MacArthur supplied the game-winner just over three minutes later. Chris Neil sealed the comeback win with an empty-netter in the closing minutes.
Craig Anderson made 28 saves as Ottawa snapped a seven-game losing streak against Colorado.
"It was a good character win by us," said MacArthur. "We stuck with it. It was ugly in the first (period) and we were able to hang in there and find a way to get a win."
Ryan, who inked a lucrative seven-year contract extension with Ottawa earlier this month, recorded his first goal of the season on Thursday. The American winger has fared well against Columbus in his career, recording nine goals and 10 assists over 23 games.
Ottawa has won three of its last four games against the Blue Jackets and the Sens are 4-1-1 with a tie in seven all-time meetings in Canada's capital city.
Robin Lehner will get the start in net for the Sens. He has a win in his only career outing against the Blue Jackets, stopping 32-of-33 shots in a 4-1 road victory on Nov. 5 of last season.
Columbus also enters Saturday's tilt with a 3-1-0 record after holding on to beat a visiting Calgary club on Friday. The Blue Jackets led 3-0 before allowing the Flames to rally in the third period.
A second-period goal by Matt Calvert wound up being the difference. Calvert gave the Blue Jackets a 3-0 lead at 7:55 of the second period, but Mason Raymond and Josh Jooris, making his NHL debut, scored in the third period for the Flames.
Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille had first-period goals for Columbus, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in his 100th game with the Blue Jackets.
Columbus head coach Todd Richards felt the team got away from its game once it built a 3-0 lead.
"What we have to learn is just continue to do the same things that allowed us to have some success," he said.
Curtis McElhinney expects to get his first start of the season for Columbus, as Richards is looking to give Bobrovsky a rest. McElhinney has never faced the Senators.
The Blue Jackets open a four-game road trip tonight in Ottawa before heading west to visit San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Columbus won its only road tilt of the season, opening 2014-15 with a 3-1 victory at Buffalo.
Columbus forward Marko Dano missed Friday's game with an undisclosed injury and the winger is questionable for tonight's contest.