NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 2nd (All times eastern)
San Jose Sharks (11-8-4) at Ottawa Senators (11-13-1), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The last thing the Senators need right now is a distraction, but that is what they will get tonight when Sharks forward Dany Heatley makes his return trip to Scotiabank Place for the first time since the former Ottawa skater was traded to San Jose last September.
After beginning his career with the Thrashers, Heatley spent four very productive seasons with the Senators, posting 180 goals, 182 assists and 362 points in 317 games with the club. He twice scored 50 goals in a season and notched a career-best 105 points in 2006-07.
However, Heatley demanded a trade from the organization two offseasons ago and his request was granted in September of 2009. Heatley was dealt to the Sharks along with a fifth-round pick for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a 2010 second-round pick.
The 29-year-old Heatley has two goals and six points in 10 career games versus the Senators, but will play in Ottawa for the first time as an opposing player since last doing so on Feb. 19, 2004 with Atlanta.
Heatley had a pair of assists in last season's 5-2 home victory over Ottawa, his first game against the club since the trade. It was the Sharks' fourth straight victory over the Senators and they haven't lost to the franchise since Oct. 18, 2003.
The Sharks have also won two straight trips to Ottawa, where it hasn't been dealt a loss since Dec. 19, 2002.
While Cheechoo is no longer skating with the Senators, Michalek had both Ottawa goals in last year's meeting on Dec. 1. He had 22 goals and 34 points in 66 games last year with Ottawa after posting 91 goals, 123 assists and 214 points in 317 games with the Sharks, who drafted him sixth overall in 2003.
While Michalek got a nice ovation upon his return to California, the same doesn't figure to happen for Heatley. Given that Ottawa has lost three of four and six of its last eight games, center Jason Spezza knows his club can't get caught up in Heatley's return.
"We're just focused on trying to play a better hockey game and win the game," Spezza told Ottawa's website. "But we know there's a sidebar to the game. We haven't talked about it at all, other than trying to be ready as a team.
"We want to win, we want to get rolling and it would be great to beat these guys."
Ottawa was dealt a 4-1 loss by Edmonton on Monday, falling to 1-1-0 on a four- game homestand and 7-6-0 as the host club overall. Nick Foligno had the lone goal and Brian Elliott made 21 saves.
"We came out strong in the first [period] and had several opportunities to extend the lead," said Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston. "After the first intermission, we just came out flat and took them lightly. They picked up their game. We didn't respect our opponent. We didn't play the way we needed to play."
The Sens will also have to be careful not to take the Sharks too lightly despite San Jose being just 2-3-2 over its last seven games. San Jose dropped a 5-3 decision at home to Detroit on Tuesday and now plays five straight on the road having lost six of its last seven as the guest.
Heatley, Benn Ferriero and Ryan Clowe scored for the Sharks, who are 4-4-2 on the road this season. Antero Niittymaki finished with 24 saves in the loss as Detroit took advantage of San Jose having three players at its blueline -- Derek Joslin, Justin Braun and Mike Moore -- from the minor leagues due to injuries to Niclas Wallin (leg), Kent Huskins (upper body) and Jason Demers (upper body).
Forward Devin Setoguchi also sat out with an upper-body injury.
"I thought early we had some real good chances in the first [period]. We had hung around and made some good plays to score some goals on," said Heatley, who has scored in four straight games with five tallies in that span.
Playing on the fifth anniversary of his trade to San Jose from Boston, Joe Thornton recorded his 500th point in a Sharks uniform with an assist.
12/02 11:00:27 ET