Sens looking for Duck luck

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- As the Senators emerged from their dressing room yesterday at the Honda Center, all they had to do was look up to the rafters for a reminder of what could have been.

"You come to the rink, you see the (2007) Stanley Cup banner hanging there and there's obviously a little bit more to this game," Senators centre Jason Spezza said following a 45-minute skate.

The Senators would like the result to be different tonight as they face the Ducks for the first time since losing last spring's Stanley Cup final in five games.

While a win tonight won't get the Senators a coveted Cup, it could go a long way in boosting their confidence as they head toward the post-season.

A victory over the Ducks would also be a good start to a tough four-game road swing that includes stops in San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

"All I hope is that we continue to play better," said Senators coach and GM Bryan Murray. "I'm not even going to worry about whether it's the Ducks. We've just got to play better and continue to improve.

"I don't think they're awarding the Cup (tonight), so I'm not going to worry about that so much. It's a nice measuring game. They're playing terrific right now. So it's a good game to see where we fit. There's no doubt about that. But I watched San Jose play and they're playing well, too. The games, as we go forward, are going to have to be at a pretty high level."

Murray will stick with goaltender Martin Gerber, who made 25 stops in a 5-4 victory over the Penguins on Saturday at Scotiabank Place.

"Gerber gets a chance partly because he played here, partly because he won (on Saturday) and partly because I want to see him play in a couple of games," said Murray.

The Senators and Ducks have gone in opposite directions since the start of the season. Anaheim got off to a mediocre start, but has been revitalized by the return of defenceman Scott Niedermayer and winger Teemu Selanne.

As Ottawa fans know, the Senators' problems with consistency cost coach John Paddock his job. But the team took a step in the right direction by beating Pittsburgh and showing more emotion in the process.

"For us, right now, the motivation is feeding off of the last game and going forward," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "I'm not even looking at the Ducks. We're in a tight race and we need wins.

"We have to have a good road trip here. We're quickly approaching the playoffs. We're focused on this year, on getting the team to where it's got to be. We want to get back to where we were last year."

Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere said he believes the Senators will approach the Ducks the same way he looked at the Devils when he faced them in a Stanley Cup rematch after losing to them in the 2003 final.

"I wanted to beat the Devils bad. I'm sure the Senators will approach it that way. From my experience, I know they are going to be wanting to win this game," said Giguere.

"They are going to come hard and, for us, it's going to be a good challenge. It's going to be a playoff-type game. They need the two points and we need the two points. It should be an interesting battle. We're going to have to play as good as we've been playing lately to get the win."

ALFIE OK: Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson didn't practise yesterday. He blocked a shot Saturday and was cut for five stitches. He said he'll be fine to play tonight.


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