Seven-year itch for Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

OTTAWA -- It's been a long time since the Edmonton Oilers have been able to pull out a victory in the nation's capital.

Not since March 14, 2002, have the Oilers defeated the Ottawa Senators in their own building.

They head into tonight's game (5:30 p.m.) at Scotiabank Place having lost their last four games in Ottawa.

"Just going back from memory, the challenges that we had against them when I was in Toronto were terrific, they had a great rivalry going," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn.

"Obviously we won't have as big a rivalry going in there, but they're a strong team at home and they have great fans.

"We know we're going to have a game on our hands."

The Senators head into the contest currently ninth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 7-5-2 record. They're not the powerhouse club that made it to the Stanley Cup final two year ago, having hit rock last season.

But they still have some offensive firepower, mainly with Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.

This summer the Senators were held hostage by high-priced, high-scoring forward Dany Heatley, who demanded a trade out of town, but only on his own terms.

The Senators had come to an agreement with the Oilers on the winger, but that fell through when Heatley refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Eventually he was moved to San Jose for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a draft pick.

Michalek has a team-high seven goals, while Cheechoo -- a former 50-goal scorer -- has yet to find the net this season.

"They play a skilled game," said Oilers forward Mike Comrie, who had two separate tours with the Senators.

"They're well-coached, so it's going to take another effort like the one we had (Sunday) to beat them.

"They're one of those teams that you can't give them a lot of opportunities because they'll capitalize on them. We have to go out there and play a smart game."

Tonight's contest is the second on a five-game road trip for the Oilers.

They won the first Sunday, scoring four power play goals, en route to a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Ryan Potulny and Liam Reddox had strong debuts after getting the call up from Springfield on Saturday. Potulny scored the winner and added an assist while Reddox picked up an assist.

However, it was their ability to make the simple plays that earned praise from Quinn.

"Turnovers have been an Achilles heel for this organization for a while -- we are the turnover queens," Quinn said. "After we scored that third goal, we let them back in and then five shifts in a row we turned the puck over in our own zone. We have to get that out of our game and guys like Potulny, guys like Reddox are not going to turn the puck over, they're going to put the puck by the defenceman and go after it."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA

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WHO TO WATCH

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THESE TWO PLAYERS IN TONIGHT'S GAME

JASON SPEZZA, SENATORS

Spezza has just one goal this season, but is still second in team scoring due to his 10 assists. Spezza is still the Sens' top centre and is expected to provide a bulk of Ottawa's offence. He needs a dominant stretch to earn an Olympic spot on Team Canada.

DUSTIN PENNER, OILERS

Penner is off to a great start this season and now he heads to Ottawa to play against the team he was supposed to be traded to for Dany Heatley in the summer. He has 21 points on the season, two more than Heatley has with the San Jose Sharks.


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