Sens turn to Bishop in net

It will be up to Ben Bishop to help find a way for the Sens to halt the streaking Pens in Ottawa....

It will be up to Ben Bishop to help find a way for the Sens to halt the streaking Pens in Ottawa. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency/Files)

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:33 PM ET

OTTAWA - The Senators will turn to Ben Bishop in net with the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town Saturday riding a 13-0-1 streak.

After Craig Anderson was lit up in Montreal in his first start since suffering a hand injury last month, coach Paul MacLean said it will be up to Bishop to find a way to halt the streaking Penguins.

“We don’t want to think too much about them, we want to play our game and good things will happen,” said Bishop. “You’ve got to be ready to play. We might have been lax for a few minutes (in Montreal) and it ended up coming back to bite us. I’m sure we’ll be ready tonight, though.”

It’s a tall order.

During the Penguins 14-game unbeaten streak, they’ve averaged 4.14 goals per game. Ottawa’s offence has dried up on their current 1-3-2 slide, with only six goals scored in those six games.

“We would like the whole team to be better,” said MacLean. “The team had a tough start (in Montreal), Anderson included. I thought after he went back in the net he was better, and the team was better too.

“It’s back-to-back games and we’ve got three games in four nights, and (Bishop) has played real well for us. To play (Anderson) back-to-back coming off the injury just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.”

MacLean will make a couple other lineup changes, with Kaspars Daugavins drawing into the lineup for Zenon Konpoka, and Matt Carkner taking the place of Matt Gilroy.

Carkner has dressed for only one game — on Feb. 25 against the Bruins — since Feb. 7.

“We want him to come in and be Matt Carkner, and not try to do anything special,” said MacLean. “We want to make sure we get him in some games and we want to use the depth of our team with the way our schedule is this weekend.”

Jason Spezza, who scored Ottawa’s only goal in the 5-1 loss Friday, admitted the team is “in a little bit of a rut.”

“We haven’t scored as easily as we have most of the season, and there’s going to be ups and downs throughout the season and right now we’re just going through a little bit of a dip. Like prior (slumps), we don’t feel like we’re that far away,” said Spezza.

“It’s not time to reshape everything and change how we’re going to play, it’s just a matter of getting back to our roles and getting back to our game, playing an up-tempo, work-based game. The line is so fine in this league and if you stick to your plan and work at it, eventually you’re going to get the results you’re looking for.”

The Senators hold a 2-1 edge in the season series so far against the Penguins, winning 6-4 in Ottawa on Dec. 16 and 5-1 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 10. The Penguins beat Ottawa 6-3 on Nov. 25 in Pittsburgh.

“For whatever reason, we’ve played well against the good teams this year,” said Spezza. “I don’t know if it makes us up our level, or maybe it’s a bit of fear that we could get licked petty good if we don’t come out ready. For whatever reason, we play well against the top teams and we’re hoping to have a similar result tonight.”

MacLean wasn’t able to explain why his team has matched up well against the Penguins in previous meetings.

“If I knew that, I’d know why Montreal beats us like a drum,” he said. “We can’t seem to figure that out, but we always seem to play well against Pittsburgh, which is good for us. We always get excited about playing them, we haven’t played them since they got Sidney (Crosby) back and everybody’s healthy for them. We’re looking forward to tonight, it’s always a challenge.”

With Buffalo and Washington suddenly within striking distance of the Senators in the Eastern Conference standings, both sitting two points back of Ottawa, the Senators’ grip on a playoff spot is slipping.

“I’m sure (the players) are looking at the standings,” said MacLean. “I think we’re all aware of the situaton that we’re in, but I think it should be looked at as a healthy push, because this is the time of year where you want to be playing and playing meaningful games in March and April to work your way to Game No. 83.”


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