Maple Leafs-Senators Preview

The Ottawa Senators are trying to remain composed during a rough stretch.

Hoping a players' meeting will provide a solution, the Senators try to avoid matching a season high with their fourth consecutive defeat Saturday night against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

A loser of 11 of 16, Ottawa (23-23-6) held a closed-door meeting following Thursday's 7-2 home defeat to Edmonton.

"We're still confident in this group," forward Zack Smith told the NHL's official website. "I think the main focus right now is not to feel sorry for ourselves.

"It's a good test to see what kind of team you have when you go through something like this, and if guys start falling apart. It's just a matter of sticking together and I think we've done that so far."

Though the Senators are averaging 2.3 goals in the last 16, the bigger concern is the 27 they've allowed and their opponents' 47.4 percent (9 for 19) conversion rate on the power play during a 1-5-0 rut.

Two nights after falling 6-5 at Pittsburgh, Ottawa allowed the Oilers to score three times in as many chances with the man advantage Thursday.

"The way we have been playing and the results we've been getting are unacceptable," defenseman Marc Methot said. "But we can't start turning on each other as a group in the dressing room, because that's a recipe for disaster and that won't get us anywhere."

Coach Dave Cameron also sees no point in flying off the handle to motivate his club.

''I'm going to give them some solutions," he said. "I'll suggest on what we work on and we'll work on it. I'm not going to yell and scream. Those days are gone.

''Am I close to losing my patience? No, not at all. They need me now.''

Craig Anderson faced a season-high 44 shots against the Penguins then was pulled after yielding three goals on 10 versus Edmonton. He has posted a 5.63 goals-against average while losing three straight.

Anderson made 37 saves in a 5-4 shootout victory at Toronto on Oct. 10 but has a 3.51 GAA in his last three against the Maple Leafs.

Ottawa, which dropped four in a row Oct. 15-24, has earned at least a point in five in a row against Toronto (19-22-9).

The Maple Leafs entered the All-Star break on a 1-7-2 slide but overcame a two-goal, third-period deficit to beat Boston 4-3 in overtime Tuesday. They then received a tying goal from Tyler Bozak late in regulation in Thursday's 3-2 shootout victory over New Jersey.

"Obviously, it's nice to win," Mike Babcock said after coaching his 1,000th game.

Bozak, who added an assist, had recorded two points in his previous 11 contests.

''I thought he had the puck all night (Thursday) and was good," Babcock said of Bozak, who snapped a 15-game goal drought. "I still think he can be way better. We need him to be consistently competitive like he was (against the Devils)."

Bozak recorded his first hat trick in a 4-3 overtime win over the Senators on March 28, and also scored against them in October.

Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson had three assists in the season's first meeting, giving him seven and four goals in a seven-game point streak against Toronto.


More NHL