March 31, 2014

Boosted by a strong homestand, the Ottawa Senators visit the NHL's hottest team with their goaltender playing at his highest level of the season.

Craig Anderson puts his shutout streak on the line against the high-scoring Dallas Stars, who enter Tuesday night's matchup with a chance for their longest winning stretch in four seasons.

Anderson followed up a 25-save shutout Thursday against Columbus with 36 stops in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Philadelphia, capping a 3-0-2 residency for Ottawa (10-5-5) in which he posted a 1.22 goals-against average in four starts.

''Being in the right spot at the right time when the puck is coming in and just being patient and not trying to do too much. That's the key,'' he said.

Anderson wasn't nearly as sharp in the Senators' most recent road outing, permitting each goal in a 7-5 loss to Nashville on Nov. 10. Another tough task awaits in Tuesday's opener of this three-game trip, as the Western Conference-leading Stars' 74 goals trail only Montreal (78) for tops in the NHL.

Dallas (17-4-0) has 18 goals during its second five-game win streak of the season and received strong goaltending of its own last time out, with Antti Niemi's 22 saves supporting Jamie Benn's two third-period goals in Saturday's 3-0 win over Buffalo.

''He made some really big saves, especially early on when we had the power play,'' Benn said. ''We gave up a couple of short-handed breakaways, 2-on-1s, and he was there to back us up. It was pretty impressive to see. He definitely earned that shutout.''

Niemi had 24 saves in a 3-1 triumph at Buffalo four days earlier but has been at his best at American Airlines Center, compiling a 5-1-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and two shutouts in six starts.

Dallas, which last won six straight in March 2012, improved to 3-2-0 when trailing after two periods after Benn notched his league-leading 13th and 14th goals less than two minutes apart. The Stars are outscoring opponents 31-17 in the third.

"Maybe it's the speed that we bring that wears the teams down, and in the third period it just opens up," forward Antoine Roussel told the Stars' official website.

Benn has four goals and four assists during the win streak and defenseman John Klingberg also has eight points over the run. Tyler Seguin added two assists on Saturday to tie Klingberg and Chicago's Patrick Kane for the league lead.

Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan also have been going well, with Karlsson amassing five goals and five assists over a six-game point streak and Ryan generating 10 points over a career-high eight-game run.

The duo may have to remain productive to offset a defense that's allowing a league-high 34.3 shots per game and was porous in two 2014-15 losses to the Stars that extended their series losing streak to seven. The Senators haven't beaten the Stars since a 5-4 overtime victory at home Dec. 20, 2008, and last won in Dallas in December 2007.

Though Seguin didn't register a point in last year's meetings, Klingberg scored three of Dallas' 11 goals and Benn had two in a 6-3 win at Ottawa on Jan. 29.

You May Like