November 13, 2014

Craig Anderson's shutdown work of late hasn't closed the door on the Ottawa Senators' playoff hopes.

Anderson was anything but stellar when facing the Edmonton Oilers earlier this month, however.

The resurgent Senators begin an important Western Canada trip seeking a fourth consecutive win in Tuesday night's matchup with the Oilers, who've returned to their customary losing ways since the teams' last meeting.

Ottawa (28-26-6) appeared in disarray during a 7-2 home loss to the Oilers on Feb. 4, part of a 2-6-0 stretch that placed its postseason chances in extreme doubt. It's responded with its longest winning streak since a season-high four-game run from Nov. 19-25 to close within six points of eighth-place Pittsburgh in the East.

Anderson has yielded five goals while starting all three victories and has posted a 1.69 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in seven outings since allowing three goals on 10 shots in just 11:41 against Edmonton. He had 29 saves in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Detroit.

''I like the style we're playing right now,'' Anderson said. ''It's very conservative, and we're not run-and-gun right now. We're playing consistent and together as a group and it's getting us some wins, so it's some positive reinforcement for us.''

Dion Phaneuf's addition has helped shore things up defensively as well, and the former Maple Leafs captain also made an impact on the offensive end by scoring Saturday's game-tying goal with 3:51 remaining in regulation, his first in six games since being acquired on Feb. 9.

''You can't overestimate what Dion Phaneuf has done in terms of our top-four defensemen and the breakouts, the D-zone coverage. All those things have improved since Dion came here,'' coach David Cameron said. ''You add a real good player in the back end as a top-four defenseman and you get on a bit of a roll and that all adds to the confidence.''

The Senators now will see whether they can maintain that success on the road, where they've lost four straight. Anderson has a 4.77 GAA during the skid and a 3.46 mark outside Ottawa this season compared to 2.15 at home.

Edmonton (22-32-6) has gone in a different direction since its rout in Ottawa, having been outscored 31-16 over a 1-6-1 stretch that's left them tied with Toronto for the fewest points in the NHL. The Oilers have lost the last four on a six-game homestand they began with a 5-2 win over Toronto on Feb. 11.

''(Our record) is disappointing for all of us, for the whole organization,'' coach Todd McLellan said following Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Colorado. ''It's not where we thought we would be.''

Connor McDavid's return has been one bright spot, with the 2015 No. 1 overall pick amassing 15 points in 10 games since missing three months with a fractured clavicle. The 19-year-old assisted on Jordan Eberle's two goals against Ottawa earlier this month.

Benoit Pouliot has 13 points since McDavid's comeback after registering a goal against Colorado, while Eberle has seven goals and six assists over that 10-game span.

Cam Talbot made 36 saves in the teams' previous matchup and owns a 1.34 GAA in winning all three career starts against Ottawa. He's just 1-5-0 with a 3.64 GAA in his last seven appearances, however.

Ottawa's Mike Hoffman has four goals and an assist in the series' last three meetings but has gone four straight without a point.

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