NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 31st
(All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (16-18-4) at Columbus Blue Jackets (19-15-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators offense sure looked like it missed
forward Jason Spezza in its last trip to the ice.
Coming off its fifth shutout loss of the season and third this month, the
Senators will try to get on track tonight and prevent the hosting Columbus
Blue Jackets from picking up a third straight victory of their own.
Spezza is third on the club with nine goals and 20 points, but is out
indefinitely after suffering a right shoulder injury in Sunday's win over
Pittsburgh. Ottawa did manage 37 shots in its first game without the 27-year-
old, but did not get one past Carolina's Cam Ward in a 4-0 setback on
Brian Elliott, meanwhile, allowed four goals on 31 shots as Ottawa had a two-
game win streak end and fell to just 5-6-3 over its last 14 games.
"We need these points and this loss stings," said Ottawa left wing Nick
Foligno. "It's unfortunate from out standpoint that we weren't prepared
tonight cause these things come back to haunt you."
Perhaps some help from the blue line will help compensate for Spezza's
absence and the club will look to Sergei Gonchar to step up. In the first
season of a three-year deal signed this offseason, Gonchar is a club-worst
minus-20 and hasn't scored a goal since Nov. 11. He has just three assists
over his last 17 games, but does own six goals and seven helpers in eight
career games versus Columbus.
Spezza had a goal in last year's 2-1 home victory over Columbus that snapped a
three-game series losing streak. Making his first career start versus the Blue
Jackets, Elliott made 32 saves.
Ottawa has lost two straight at Nationwide Arena and is just 1-2-0 with a tie
in four all-time trips to the Blue Jackets' home arena.
Steve Mason posted a 17-save shutout when the clubs last met in Columbus on
Jan. 30, 2009. He made 34 saves in last year's loss to give him a 1.00 goals-
against average in the two meetings.
It is unknown if Mason or Mathieu Garon will get the call in this one after
Columbus posted a 3-2 victory in Toronto last night. Mason made 20 saves to
record the win.
Garon is 0-2-0 with a 1.84 GAA in his career versus Ottawa.
Kristian Huselius scored twice and R.J. Umberger had the game-winner in the
third period for the Blue Jackets, who won back-to-back games for the first
time since a five-game run from Nov. 17-24.
"We've been playing pretty well, but when you get behind it's tough on the
road," Huselius said. "The home team gets the momentum ... tonight, I thought
we really stayed with it."
Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette had two assists each as the Blue Jackets halted
a seven-game road losing streak. After this home game, they hit the road for
four straight to start 2011.
12/31 11:18:05 ET