Senators-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 31, 2013
Balanced production has the Ottawa Senators off to a strong start, and they may need it to continue for some time. With top center Jason Spezza out indefinitely, the Senators try for a third consecutive victory overall and some rare road success against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. Ottawa (5-1-1) ranks among the NHL leaders with 24 goals and it's gotten that production from 13 players. Daniel Alfredsson was one of five Senators with a goal and 12 with a point in a 5-1 win over Montreal on Wednesday. "It's goal scoring by committee,'' said coach Paul MacLean, who has watched seven of his players score eight goals in the last two games. "We're going to have to be that hard-working team that grinds out some goals. We did that (Wednesday) and we have to continue to do it.'' The Senators will need that type of team effort to offset the absence of Spezza, who will undergo back surgery Friday to address a herniated disc. Spezza, who has missed the last two contests after getting injured, has two goals and three assists in five games. "We are hoping that he gets back at the later part of the season and, if we're in the playoffs, (he) will be able to participate at that time," general manager Bryan Murray told NHL.com. Ottawa knows it will have to maintain its identity as a team that gets contributions from everyone to continue its success. "We know we have to work hard every night and that's what we do,'' said Alfredsson, who has a goal and three assists in the last three contests. "When you've got good things going for you it's a lot easier obviously.'' Center Mika Zibanejad, the sixth overall pick in 2011, had one assist in nine games last season but notched his first career goal against the Canadiens. It came after the 19-year-old recorded an assist in a 3-2 win over Washington on Tuesday in his season debut. "I think he's even more relaxed than he was last year in the first nine games when he played with us,'' MacLean said. "I think he has a little more maturity and I think he's shown that he appreciates being in the NHL.'' Craig Anderson looked relaxed while stopping 31 shots Wednesday to improve to 5-0-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average. Anderson is 2-0-3 with a 2.67 GAA at Raleigh, but the Hurricanes are 8-0-1 at home against the Senators since a 6-0 loss there Dec. 12, 2007. Ottawa's lone victory in the last nine road games against Carolina came in a shootout, 3-2 on Oct. 25, 2011. Carolina (2-3-0) has won five of seven overall against the Senators but is looking to bounce back from a 5-3 home loss to Boston on Monday. The Hurricanes rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits before allowing the Bruins to score twice in the third period. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist and Jeff Skinner also scored for Carolina, which is 3 of 26 on the power play after failing on all six chances Monday. "We've got to get the job done and get production on the power play," coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes' official website. Staal has totaled all four of his goals and two assists in the last three games, while Skinner has scored all of his team-leading five goals in a career-high four straight contests. Carolina's Cam Ward is 1-3-0 with a 4.51 GAA this season but 6-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA at home versus Ottawa. Veteran Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar is expected back in the lineup Friday after missing one game.
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