Sens rock like a Hurricane

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

Matt Cullen has been a part of this kind of fun run before.

It was a year ago down the stretch when Cullen and the Hurricanes caught fire and rode the hot streak all the way to the Eastern Conference final.

Following Saturday's 3-2 win over the Panthers at Scotiabank Place, Cullen pointed out the similarities between last season's Hurricanes and this year's Senators, noting that Ottawa could be poised for a long ride in the post-season.

With four straight wins and preparing to face the Capitals Tuesday in Washington, the Senators, who have 87 points and trail Buffalo by six points for the top spot in the Northeast Division, need only five points in their final six games to book another trip back to the playoffs.

"This is huge," said Cullen, acquired from the Hurricanes before the trade deadline. "You look at the teams that were the two hottest teams in the East last year going down the stretch and it was Carolina and Pittsburgh. Those two teams finished No. 4 and No. 6.

"They were the two hottest teams in the playoffs and they were the two teams that made the Conference final. Home-ice advantage, I don't think, is all it is cracked up to be. Regardless of where you're playing, you can have success in the post-season."

The Senators would like to get a playoff spot locked up as quickly as possible. They'll play four of the final six games on the road before wrapping up at home against Buffalo on April 10.

"Our goal is to make sure we're (in the playoffs)," said centre Mike Fisher. "We've gotten better the last few games. We want to go into the playoffs on a high and playing like we've been playing the last few games.That's kind of our focus. The rest will take care of itself as far as seeding (goes)."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson said the Senators are confident they can have a good playoff run.

"We feel like we can match up with anybody," said Alfredsson. "We know how close it is, but we feel that if we can continue here all the way to the playoffs, we can do some damage and that we have a good team."

Wiercioch en route?

With the University of Denver eliminated from NCAA play, the Senators will open contract talks Monday with D Patrick Wiercioch, a 6-foot-3, 178-pound prospect they selected in the second round (No. 42 overall) in 2008. Wiercioch, who has spent the last two seasons at Denver, said he plans to return to school, but the Senators will likely sign him in the next few days. Ideally, the Senators would like Wiercioch to finish the season with the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. He'd likely be brought up to Ottawa during the playoffs. Senators GM Bryan Murray, assistant GM Tim Murray and chief scout Pierre Dorion were in Albany, N.Y., Friday to watch Wiercioch play against RIT in their East Regional game, which Denver lost 2-1.

This 'n' that

If D Anton Volchenkov isn't ready to return from a upper-body injury he suffered Saturday, D Brian Lee will be recalled from Binghamton to play against the Capitals... Expect to see G Brian Elliott named one of the NHL's three stars of the week Monday. He was 4-0 for the week with 1.00 GAA ... Alfredsson is proud of his 10th straight 20-goal season. "I don't think about it much right now. You're just trying to score every game," said Alfredsson, who has 12 20-goal seasons in his career. "I've scored in three (games) in a row and I went a while there without scoring. It feels good to get more chances as well. Myself, and the team, we're going in the right direction."


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