Sens home in on stretch

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

As Ottawa residents dig out of what they hope is the final winter storm of the season, the Senators are trying to avoid another storm of their own before the playoffs.

To do that they'll have to get their act together in the final 12 games of the regular season, beginning tomorrow at home against the Boston Bruins.

The Senators were able to salvage something from their four-game Western Conference road swing and keep it from being a total disaster by beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 Saturday and picking up 3-of-8 points on the four-game trip.

However, nobody is convinced this team has turned the corner. The Senators have plenty of work to do in a stretch drive that includes 10 games against Northeast Division opponents.

Sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference -- nine points ahead of the ninth- place Buffalo Sabres -- the Senators are very much in control of their own destiny.

STRING SOME TOGETHER

The Senators would have to completely fall apart to fall out of the playoffs. They're more focused on building confidence by stringing together some wins heading into the post-season.

"Points are huge for us right now," said Senators centre Mike Fisher, who ended an 18-game goal drought with two against the Coyotes. "We've got huge games ahead of us. That's going to control who is in and who is out.

"We've just got to keep building and come together as a team. You saw in parts of the second (period against Phoenix), we tried to do things as individuals and that's what really hurt us."

That's why GM/coach Bryan Murray believes practice time later this week is paramount. He's trying to get the club back to playing the style it did last season when it went to the Stanley Cup final.

After the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Thursday at the Bell Centre, the Senators will have two full days of practice before facing the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday in Raleigh.

"It's not only a confidence issue, it's a careless issue," said Murray. "We're not happy very often when we're beating ourselves. That's what I felt was happening in the second period (against the Coyotes). I'm just glad that we were able to respond in a positive way."

MISTAKES, MISTAKES ...

Mistakes by key players have been costly -- the latest being turnovers by Jason Spezza and Andrej Meszaros that ended up in the Senators' net, allowing Phoenix to take a 2-1 lead before Ottawa stormed back.

"Turnovers cost us their two goals. We're just giving it away to them," said Fisher. "If we can cut down on that, and work, we're going to have success. We showed in that third period that we could get the job done."

Murray said the victory in Phoenix will help because not only have the Senators had a tough time winning, they haven't been able to score goals, either.

"To win a game for us is big. It was kind of getting out of hand," said Murray.

"It's important to get some goals, get the two points and now we can go home off the road trip, face some division opponents and it shouldn't be very hard to get up for those games.

"Hopefully, we'll start playing much better now."


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