CALGARY — Same province, different challenge for the Senators.
After starting their three-game road trip Tuesday with a 4-1 win over Edmonton — the NHL’s worst team — the Senators are going to have to try shut down a Flames team Thursday that is fighting for its playoff life.
“We’re feeling good about our game and I thought everybody stepped up (against the Oilers),” said centre Mike Fisher. “We’re going to have to be even better against a better team.
“(The Flames) work hard. We know that. They’re going to be in our face and they’re going to be buzzing at home. We’ve got to try to get a lead and then play the kind of structured hockey that we can.”
Senators C Jason Spezza was happy to hear NHL GMs came up with a minor penalty for headshots during meetings this week in Boca Raton, Fla. He doesn’t know much about the proposal, but as member of the NHL’s competition committee, he will get a closer look at it this summer. “This is something we have to figure out an answer for. It’s good they’re being proactive. It’s just a matter of when they start enforcing it,” said Spezza. “There has to be mutual agreement between the players and the owners before moving forward. Everybody wants to get blindside hits out of the game.”
Happy with Brian
Senators coach Cory Clouston was pleased with how G Brian Elliott performed in the Tuesday’s win. “He’s playing the way we expected him to play. He was very solid. I know a couple of people might have questioned putting him in (against the Oilers), but it’s not even a doubt in our mind. The way he has played the last 20 games, he has been very solid, very patient and very poised,” said Clouston. Elliott only faced 19 shots. Clouston said he would use both goalies on the road trip and didn’t change his tune Wednesday. “We have to have both of them playing well,” said Clouston. “If we can have both goalies playing well, then that’s a best-case scenario.”
This ’n’ That
Ottawa W Shean Donovan wasn’t happy to see Pittsburgh W Matt Cooke get off without being disciplined for his hit on Boston’s Marc Savard Sunday. “I’m a little bit (surprised). I guess (the NHL) hasn’t set a precedent yet. He’ll get his though,” said Donovan, who was the victim of a knee-on-knee hit from Cooke earlier this season ... Ws Daniel Alfredsson and Alex Kovalev and Ds Matt Carkner and Andy Sutton didn’t practise Wednesday, but are expected to play vs. Calgary ... Injured F Nick Foligno (broken leg) and D Filip Kuba (lower body) won’t be joining the team on the road trip. Clouston hopes the pair will return next week.
F Matt Cullen was happy to score the winner in the Senators’ 4-1 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday. He has had to make a quick transition since being dealt from Carolina and is fitting in well. “Part of it is getting comfortable with the guys, getting comfortable with the system and playing the game,” said Cullen. He said he likes playing centre and being there has helped the transition. “Definitely, I’ve felt a bit better in the middle. It’s not one of those things where I can’t play the wing. I fully expect to play my share my play the wing as well, but getting back in the middle has helped me make the adjustment.”
In a battle
The Flames are coming off a big 4-2 win over the Red Wings on Thursday that pushed them ahead of Detroit and into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. “If you keep dwelling on where you’re at, it becomes a very weight-bearing thing,” Calgary coach Brent Sutter said about the playoff race. “You can’t think about it like that. You don’t worry about where you’re at. You focus in on where you want to get.”