Sens can't look past Coyotes
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Matt Carkner returns to the Senators lineup against the Coyotes. (QMI Agency/Files)
GLENDALE, ARIZ. - One more game stands between the busiest team in the NHL and their all-star break.
The challenge for the Senators is to not look beyond it.
One of two teams to have played 51 games to date, Ottawa will wrap up a gruelling, six-game-in-nine day road trip with a visit to Jobing.com Arena and a showdown with the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday.
The Senators arrived at their Glendale hotel about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after chartering from Los Angeles, where they lost a 4-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings.
“I think we have to address that,” coach Paul MacLean said of the team’s focus after a team meeting Tuesday.
“I think everybody is looking forward to the break. We have to make sure we don’t lose sight of the fact we have a game to play before that.
“Everybody in the league has a part of their schedule that’s hard. We’re going through the hardest part. Tonight is an opportunity to end it on a positive note.
“The good news is we’re going home. It’s the last day of the trip. I think that gives us a lot of energy in itself. It’s the last game before the break, I’m pretty sure we can suck it up and go one more time, give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Craig Anderson, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 20 shots, will make his 14th consecutive start in goal. Matt Carkner draws into the lineup, replacing Mark Borowiecki.
“I think for us it should be pretty easy,” said Anderson, who has been the Senators best player for much of the past month.
“We don’t have a lot of distractions. We’re here on the road and we have one last job to do before the break, and we’ve just got to focus on what’s going on right now, not get too far ahead of ourselves.” MacLean will start with the same lines he used in Los Angeles, which means Bobby Butler remains on the first line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
The three combined for seven shots but did not score against Los Angeles.
“It’s been a real tough, taxing trip on us. But we kind of see the finish line here and it’s important for us to be focused and really try to pick up these two points,” said Spezza.
“They’re two points that would be big for us going into the break.”
The Coyotes are 9-9-4 on home ice and have only one win in their last seven games, and just three in the last 15 (3-7-5) dating back to Dec. 23.
“They play a real patient game,” said MacLean.
“They rely on defence and goaltending to win the game.
“Skating is a big part of our game. We have to make sure they really skate, go to the net hard.”