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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Sunday, March 16th (All times eastern)

Ottawa Senators (40-25-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (38-30-5), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators will try to reclaim their share of the lead in the Northeast Division, as they take on the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes this afternoon at RBC Center.

Ottawa had moved ahead of Montreal in the Northeast Division standings with a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Thursday, the last time the club was in action. That victory gave both teams 87 points, but the Senators had one more victory and thus, the tie breaker.

However, the Canadiens defeated the Islanders on Saturday to move two points ahead of Ottawa. The Senators have 10 games left in the regular season, while the Canadiens have nine. The two teams will meet twice more this season.

In Thursday's win, Jason Spezza scored twice and Martin Gerber made 28 saves to post his second shutout of the season and ninth of his career. Antoine Vermette also tallied for Ottawa, which has won three straight overall, while Cory Stillman had a pair of assists.

Daniel Alfredsson returned after missing four straight games with back spasms. He notched an assist and has a team-high 37 goals to go along with 43 assists this season.

Ottawa plays its second straight on the road tonight and is 19-13-4 as the visiting club this season.

Carolina will hope to rebound tonight from a blowout setback on Friday. The Hurricanes had won five straight before getting pounded by Buffalo, 7-1.

The Sabres netted four first-period goals, forcing Cam Ward out of action early. Ward stopped just three of the seven shots he saw, while John Grahame gave up three goals on 24 shots.

Scott Walker scored the only goal for the Hurricanes, who had also won eight of their last nine overall. Carolina's lead in the division also shrunk to five points over both Washington and Florida, which both have 76 points.

All three teams are in action today. The Hurricanes and Panthers each have nine games left this season, while the Capitals will play 10 more times.

Carolina returns home tonight, and the club has won six of seven and 10 of its last 12 at RBC Center. The Hurricanes are 21-12-3 overall as the host this year.

However, the Hurricanes won't have Ray Whitney with them after placing the forward on injured reserve Saturday. Whitney needed surgery to repair a bursa in his leg and is Carolina's second-leading scorer this year with 25 goals and 59 points in 63 games. He will likely miss the rest of the regular season.

Carolina will play in Atlanta and Florida on Wednesday and Thursday before hosting Washington on March 25.

Ottawa is 2-1-0 versus Carolina this season, and has won five of six and seven of the last nine in the series. The Senators have also won four straight at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes and Senators will also meet for the first time since a trade on February 11 that sent Mike Commodore and Stillman to Ottawa for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves.

Corvo has three goals and nine assists in 14 games since the deal, while Eaves has three assists in eight games. Commodore, meanwhile, has yet to post a point with Ottawa, though Stillman has two goals and 11 assists in 16 games.

03/16 10:20:13 ET

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