(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators' scoring issues, as well as injuries,
finally seem to be catching up with the club.
Riding their longest losing streak of the season, the Sens hope the
anticipated return of forward Milan Michalek can provide a spark to the
offense in Wednesday night's rivalry matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ottawa has been held to three goals or fewer in 13 straight games and ranks
29th out of 30 teams in the NHL with 2.13 goals per game. Losing the likes of
Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Michalek to injury hasn't helped, but the Sens
still managed to win five straight from Feb. 18-25.
However, they have been held to four goals over their first three-game slide
of the season, though two of those defeats came after regulation. That
includes Sunday's 3-2 shootout setback to the New York Islanders.
Patrick Wiercioch's first NHL goal tied the game with 1:09 left in the third
period, but Jakob Silfverberg and Daniel Alfredsson came up empty on their
shootout chances, while Robin Lehner was beaten twice after making 33 saves
"It's disappointing ... I thought in the second and third we were dictating
play better than we did in the first," said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.
Lehner was making his second start of the season and MacLean will go back to
Ben Bishop on Wednesday in the fourth of a five-game road trip with Craig
Anderson still sidelined with a sprained right ankle.
Bishop is 4-3-0 with a 2.15 goals against average and .938 save percentage in
seven games this season, making 26 saves on 28 shots faced in a 3-2 home win
over the Leafs on Feb. 23.
Michalek missed that game, as well as a 3-0 loss in Toronto on Feb. 16,
because of a sprained knee that has held him out of the past 10 games overall.
The forward netted a career-high 35 goals last season and has two goals and
eight points in 13 games this season.
"I'm ready. It was a good practice today and I'm excited for tomorrow," he
said on Tuesday. "My knee feels good right now and I'm ready to play."
Michalek returns to action in time for the third edition of the Battle of
Ontario this season and the Sens snapped a three-game series losing streak in
the most recent encounter.
They have has also won four of their past six in Toronto despite the shutout
loss in mid-February, one that featured a 34-save shutout by Maple Leafs
goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Scrivens was handling the starting duties with No. 1 James Reimer out of
action for nearly three weeks due to a strained MCL.
Reimer made his second start on Monday since returning from injury and posted
28 saves in a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. He helped keep his club in
the game before Toronto's offense erupted for three goals in the third frame.
He won his fifth straight start and improved to 8-3-0 with a 2.43 GAA and .923
save percentage on the season.
"We weren't very happy with what we were doing for the first 40 minutes of the
hockey game and we were fortunate that we were only down one goal," said
Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. "The tide had really turned."
Nazem Kadri, coming off his first career hat trick, had a first-period tally
and added an assist to give him nine points over a five-game point streak,
while Clarke MacArthur was one of three goal scorers in the third. He has six
points in his last five games.
Jay McClement and Phil Kessel also scored, with Kessel picking up his first
goal on home ice this season.
Toronto moved to 5-5-0 at home in 2013 by winning its second straight and for
the sixth time in nine games overall.
Reimer is a good choice to get the start tonight given that he is 5-1-1 in
seven career games versus the Senators with a 1.70 GAA, .943 save percentage
and two shutouts.
The Sports Network