Senators-Lightning Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 13, 2012
The Ottawa Senators haven't earned many points lately, but their offense is starting to show some signs of life. A game against the Tampa Bay Lightning could help further stimulate the offense and get them a win. The Senators look to beat the Lightning for a third straight time when the teams meet Tuesday night in Tampa, Fla. Ottawa is 1-6-2 since beating San Jose 4-1 on Jan. 19, dropping from fourth place in the Eastern Conference to seventh. A sputtering offense has been the biggest reason for the Senators' struggles as they had combined for nine goals during a seven-game skid immediately following the win over the Sharks. Ottawa (28-22-8) broke out of that funk Thursday with a 4-3 victory over Nashville to snap the losing streak and followed with a 4-3 overtime loss to Edmonton on Saturday. "We haven't been playing really good lately," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "It feels like we're on the right track, though. We've got to move forward and play better as a team for 60 minutes." Karlsson had a goal and an assist against the Oilers to snap a season-high four-game point drought. The Senators also hope Milan Michalek is finally getting back on track. He leads the team with 24 goals but had gone 12 games without one before scoring Saturday. Two days earlier, Michalek assisted on both of Jason Spezza's goals after having only one point in his previous eight games. Despite Michalek going pointless in the first two games of the season against Tampa Bay (24-25-6), Ottawa won both as it outscored the Lighting 8-3. The Senators have won four of the last five meetings and are 21-6-3 against Tampa Bay since 2003-04, their second-best record against any East opponent in that span. Daniel Alfredsson, who also scored Saturday, and Spezza have keyed that dominance. Alfredsson has two goals and three assists against the Lightning this season, and 10 goals and 19 assists in his last 15 games in the series. Spezza has seven goals and seven assists during a 10-game point streak against Tampa Bay. While a game against the Lightning usually spurs Ottawa's offense, the Senators could be in further luck because Tampa Bay's defense has been shaky lately. Mathieu Garon's 3.19 goals-against average since the beginning of 2012 is easily the worst of any goaltender in the East to make at least 10 starts. Dwayne Roloson has been worse in his last 10 starts, going 1-7-1 with a 4.14 GAA. Garon allowed four goals for the second time in three starts Sunday, stopping 37 shots in a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh. The Lightning are 1-2-1 after going 6-0-1 in their previous seven. Against the Penguins, Steve Downie scored twice in an 11-second span in the first period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead, but the Lightning went on to get outshot 41-23. Steven Stamkos, the NHL leader with 37 goals, was limited to one shot as his four-game goal-scoring streak ended. Stamkos has had a hand in all three goals against the Senators this season, scoring one and assisting on two. Ottawa's Craig Anderson has been in net for both meetings, stopping 66 of 69 shots. He is 0-6-2 with a 3.86 goals-against average in his last eight games, but has a 0.98 GAA with a shutout in winning his last four starts against Tampa Bay.
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