Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes vs. Senators - Who's Hotter?

Wednesday, 03.25.2009 / 11:22 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes vs. Senators - Who\'s Hotter?
Take a quick glance at the standings, it seems as though the Hurricanes will face a non-playoff team at the RBC Center tonight.

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Don’t tell that to the Ottawa Senators, who are making their own run at the postseason after winning nine of their last 10 games. They would have to win close to all 10 of their remaining contests to even have a chance to get in, but with the way they’re playing and the talent they’ve had all along, it’s worth a shot, right?

The Hurricanes will try to stop that momentum and potentially end Ottawa’s postseason hopes tonight (each point is that important if the Sens are to qualify) in a meeting of two of the league’s hottest teams. The only other squad in the NHL that has accumulated as many points as these two have over their last 10 contests is the Pittsburgh Penguins, who come to town on April 4.

“We expect by the numbers that we should see a good hockey game,” said Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice. “There should be some good pace to it and a lot of confidence by the players handling the puck.”

Perhaps most important to any success the Senators will have is the production of their biggest stars. Daniel Alfredsson (15 points), Jason Spezza (14 points) and Dany Heatley (eight points) have all been hot in their last 10 games. Scoring beyond that trio has always been a bit of a sore spot for Ottawa (the team’s next-highest scorer is defenseman Filip Kuba with 36 points), but if the top line is going, Ottawa has enough firepower to win games.

Against that unit, the Canes will be looking for the defensive combination of Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason to do more of what they did on Saturday when they were so effective against Alex Ovechkin’s line.

“They’re highly skilled, all three of them,” said Gleason. “If you can shut down that line, you’ll have a pretty good opportunity to win the hockey game. They can roll four solid lines, but obviously that one stands out.”

Corvo will also be welcome to chip in on the offensive end, as he has five goals and one assist in four games vs. his former team since the Hurricanes acquired him on February 11 of last season.

It’s a rare occurrence these days that the Hurricanes know for certain which goaltender they will be facing on the morning of a game, and tonight is no exception as Coach Cory Clouston has yet to officially commit to a starter. Rookie Brian Elliot has won eight straight games, while Alex Auld got the 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Monday, making 27 saves. Auld played well against the Hurricanes in the last meeting between these two teams, making 41 saves on February 24.

Along with Pittsburgh and the Rangers, the Senators are one of a small group of Eastern Conference teams that have seen turnarounds after late-season coaching changes. Ottawa is 15-6-3 since Clouston took over for Craig Hartsburg behind the bench on February 2.

Matt Cullen (lower body) is out tonight for Carolina, with next Thursday vs. the Rangers looking like the earliest possible return date, although that is still up in the air. Scott Walker (upper body) could be back on Saturday vs. New Jersey.

On the Ottawa side, defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who ranks eighth in the NHL in blocked shots, didn’t play on Monday with a lower body injury but is expected to play tonight.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62