NHL

Maple Leafs-Senators Preview

The wins keep coming for the Ottawa Senators, but they still find themselves just outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Their efforts against the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs will go a long way toward determining if they get in.

Ottawa tries to win six straight for the first time in three seasons when its faces Toronto in the first of three remaining matchups Saturday night.

The Senators (35-24-11) pulled to within two points of Boston for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot by beating the Bruins 6-4 on Thursday. Kyle Turris scored twice and Milan Michalek and Mark Stone combined for a goal and five assists, leading Ottawa to its 13th victory in 15 games.

The Senators haven't won six in a row since Oct. 20-30, 2011.

"We won a big game here, but that's all we've done," coach Dave Cameron said. "We're not in the playoffs yet. We'll enjoy this, but reality hits again (Friday). We're still on the outside looking in, and I'm hoping that balance brings out the best in us."

Andrew Hammond finished with 31 saves, moving to 12-0-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average since getting called up from Binghamton. His streak of allowing two or fewer goals in each of first 12 career starts was snapped, leaving him tied with Hall of Famer Frank Brimsek for the NHL record set in 1938.

"I expected to let in four goals at some point in my NHL career, or five or six. Every night you just try to find a way to give your team a chance," Hammond told the league's official website. "Getting the win was a lot more important to me than the streak."

If in goal again as expected, Hammond will face a Leafs team the Senators will see again March 28 and April 5.

Ottawa had dropped nine of 10 to Toronto before taking two of the last three meetings, all at home.

The Maple Leafs (27-39-6) have been outscored 18-6 in a four-game losing streak after falling 4-1 to San Jose on Thursday. Jake Gardiner scored but Toronto was outshot 42-28, including 21-8 in the first period.

"We're probably a junior team against an NHL team," said Jonathan Bernier, 1-5-1 with a 4.30 GAA in his last seven starts. "I don't know how many times we're going to talk about having a good start and we just don't do it."

The Leafs have been limited to an average of 1.9 non-shootout goals in going an NHL-worst 8-30-3 since Dec. 18.

"I think that every single time we stepped on the ice, we're showing ourselves," interim coach Peter Horachek told the team's official website. "Character has to be important and we've got to rally around it. We understand we're not in the playoffs but it doesn't change your work ethic."

Toronto has been outscored 68-25 in non-shootout goals in dropping 20 of 21 on the road. The Leafs have managed one or no goals in 15 of those games.

Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk are tied for the team lead with 24 goals after combining for seven in the last 22 games. However, Kessel has 24 and 21 assists in his last 34 matchups with Ottawa.

Leafs center Nazem Kadri will serve the second game of a four-game suspension for his hit on Edmonton's Matt Fraser on Monday.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NHL