The Senators took a breather yesterday from what looks like could be a 10-game fun run to end the season.
With the Senators riding a five-game winning streak which has pushed them to the 74-point mark after a 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Sunday in New York and closing out a stretch that saw them play four games in six days, coach Cory Clouston gave the players a day off before they hit the road today for five more games.
When the 10-day trip is over, the Senators will know whether their last five games of the season will mean anything.
With nine wins in their past 10 games, the Senators have crept within seven points of the Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
GLIMMER OF HOPE
While the math still doesn't quite add up in the Senators' favour, it does offer a glimmer of hope.
The Senators have chosen to focus on the task at hand, which is beating the Hurricanes tomorrow night in Raleigh at the RBC Center.
"We've been consistently in every game and we've been giving ourselves a chance to win," captain Daniel Alfredsson said of Ottawa's success in the past 10 games. "Our approach is to try to win every game and keep this positive thing going. I don't think we want to get too carried away and talk about where we could end up."
The Senators, who passed the hated Maple Leafs with their win Sunday, trail the Sabres by two points and the Panthers by seven after Florida fell 3-2 in overtime to the Hurricanes last night.
While hoping to chip away at those leads on their road trip, the Senators will be doing plenty of scoreboard watching, too. Tonight, it will be Atlanta at Montreal. Then, the Sabres and Panthers hook up tomorrow.
"We're just trying to win the next game," said Clouston.
A website that tracks the probability of teams making the playoffs gave Ottawa a 1.1% chance before last night's action.
Last season, all eight teams that were in playoff positions on Feb. 8 in the East made the playoffs.
That means nobody who made a late-season push last spring got in.
The Senators' opponents insist they're not taking them lightly for anybody who might suggest their late-season surge is the result of teams looking at Ottawa as an also-ran.
"Their record is really good lately. They're not a bad team," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said Sunday. "There are no easy games. Coming in here, they had a great record. We didn't expect it to be easy."