(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators look to get their playoff chances back on track and avoid their longest losing streak in four months on Tuesday evening when they visit the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sens have picked a bad time to struggle, following up seven consecutive victories with their first three-game slide since Feb. 3-7. That has them three points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and one point ahead of the Florida Panthers in the standings.
Ottawa does have a game in hand on both clubs and the Bruins host the Panthers on Tuesday.
The Senators gave up some ground to the Panthers on Sunday by losing a 4-2 decision to Florida. Erik Karlsson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored third-period tallies, but the Panthers netted a pair of power-play goals in the first and capped the game with a short-handed empty-net goal.
"We kind of took ourselves out of it (with the penalties)," said Ottawa forward Clarke MacArthur. "We were rolling the lines good at the end of the first."
Craig Anderson made 33 saves in his second start in a row for the Senators, who haven't dropped four straight since a five-game slide from Nov. 28-Dec. 6.
Andrew Hammond was able to shake off a lower-body injury suffered last week and back up Anderson on Sunday after not dressing for a game. Hammond, who has gone 14-1-1 over his first 16 NHL starts, could draw the start tonight over Anderson.
Hammond has faced the Red Wings once before, a relief effort on Feb. 27 of last year in which he stopped all 11 shots faced in his NHL debut. Anderson is 4-6-1 versus Detroit with a 2.84 goals against average and .918 save percentage in 14 meetings (11 starts).
The Red Wings lead the Bruins by three points for third place in the Atlantic Division and lost for the ninth time in 13 games with Sunday's 5-4 setback to the New York Islanders.
Detroit got off to a quick start with goals by Tomas Tatar and Drew Miller less than two minutes into the contest, but the Islanders recovered and tied the game at 3-3 by the end of 20 minutes before eventually earning a 5-4 win.
"That first period had a lot of funny bounces," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg remarked. "It was sloppy for both sides."
Detroit struggled on special teams, allowing the deciding tally to a short- handed Islanders club while letting its opponent score three times on the power play.
Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk finished with a goal and an assist, while Niklas Kronwall also scored.
Petr Mrazek, coming off a 23-save shutout of high-powered Tampa Bay on Saturday, was pulled 16 seconds into the second period after permitting four goals on 11 shots. Jimmy Howard made 15 saves on 16 shots faced in relief.
Detroit will play four of its next five at home and Howard could draw back into the starting lineup tonight. He is 5-3-0 with a 3.15 GAA and .897 save percentage in eight career meetings with the Sens.
The Red Wings have won four of five and eight of their past 11 versus the Senators, taking six of the last nine played in Detroit.