March 22, 2015

Ottawa was spitting out road goals like a loose slot machine in the early part of the season, but an abrupt end to that binge made things difficult during a recent stretch in which five of six were played on opposing ice.

The Senators have been more levelheaded at home, where they'll try for a fourth straight victory Friday night against the San Jose Sharks, who have continued their puzzling success on the road while struggling at home.

After starting 7-2-1 outside Ottawa with 3.80 goals per game, the Senators (16-11-5) have lost five of six road contests with 11 combined tallies.

Five of those games were on a 2-4-0 overall span with 13 goals scored, but the lion's share came in Monday's 5-3 home win over Los Angeles. They followed that with a 2-1 defeat in Washington, so a quick stop home before heading south to face Tampa Bay and Florida leading into Christmas figures to be a relief.

But the Canadian capital wasn't always a refuge. The Senators started 0-2-2 at home, but have since gone 8-2-2 with 3.08 goals per game. The three straight wins have come behind 12 goals, and Mike Hoffman has tallied seven on a five-game home goal streak.

At the other end, Andrew Hammond played against the Capitals in his first action since Nov. 12 because of a concussion.

"Felt pretty comfortable in there," Hammond told the team's official website. "It was one of those games where it was pretty easy to get into it early on. I felt like I settled into it pretty quick. It was one of those tight, low-scoring games where you couldn't give them much. Ultimately, it was a night where there weren't going to be a lot of goals scored, but we ended up on the wrong end of that."

It's not yet known whether Hammond will get a chance to build on that or if Ottawa will go with Craig Anderson, who has a 3.18 goals-against average over a 6-5-0 span.

The Senators won both meetings last season with Hammond allowing two goals in each with a .934 save percentage. Hoffman helped him out with three goals and three assists.

The Sharks (16-14-1) have hinted at starting to turn things around with consecutive wins to begin a five-game trip, but it's followed a six-game losing streak. The road, however, might be a relief considering San Jose's league-best 12 away wins - including a 9-2-1 mark since the start of November - while going 4-9-0 at home.

"We don't really beat ourselves on the road," Joe Pavelski told the team's official website. "It has been a tough stretch. We love playing at home, but we definitely expect to be better. We have to find a solution."

Thursday's 5-4 overtime win in Toronto featured Patrick Marleau's third goal in four games and a goal and two assists from Pavelski two nights after he had one of each in a 3-1 win at Montreal. The center has scored in three straight road games and gotten 11 of his 15 total in opponents' buildings. He's also scored in his last two at Ottawa.

Martin Jones has started the last five games, which already includes a back-to-back set, so Alex Stalock could be in goal. Stalock has struggled in limited time as a starter, going 2-3-0 with a 3.63 GAA and .872 save percentage.

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