Senators-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 16, 2011
Improved scoring and goaltending have helped the Ottawa Senators bounce back from a season-worst losing streak that opened this month. The Edmonton Oilers have all kinds of problems to fix in what has become a rough November. Ottawa goes for its third straight victory Thursday night when the Oilers try to post their first five-game home winning streak since 2007-08. Since scoring nine times during an 0-4-1 slide Nov. 1-11, the Senators (9-9-1) have rebounded with a 5-2 win at Toronto on Saturday and Tuesday's 3-1 road victory over Calgary. "Overall, we've been playing pretty good hockey lately," captain Daniel Anderson said after scoring Tuesday in his third game back after missing five with a concussion. "Even when we were losing, we were right there, a shootout loss, we lost by a goal here and there. A bounce here or a bounce there, one less mistake, and those games are wins or points for us." The Senators could start piling up points if Craig Anderson maintains his current form. He's turned aside 69 of 72 shots in the last two games after getting pulled 2:25 into the first period as Ottawa opened a six-game trip Friday with a 5-1 loss to Buffalo. "The guys have been playing really well the last couple games, allowing me to make the saves from the outside, control the rebounds, and the defense has done a great job of cleaning up in front," Anderson said. The Oilers (9-6-2) failed to do so on their recently completed 2-4-0 trip. Fifteen of the 36 goals they've given up this season have come during their three-game skid. Nikolai Khabibulin was beat five times in Sunday's 6-3 loss to Chicago, and he's allowed just one fewer goal in his last two starts (eight) than he did in his first nine. Edmonton coach Tom Renney knows exactly what his team looks like when it's playing well - the Oilers won seven of eight prior to this season-worst skid - and he's just not seeing it now. "There's a disconnection between our defensemen and our forwards right now, in terms of retrieving and moving pucks," Renney said. Second-year left wing Taylor Hall might be one of the happiest Oilers now that the team gets to play on home ice for the first time since Oct. 30. Hall was a minus-5 on the trip and hasn't scored a goal in nine games. "We have a good opponent coming in on Thursday and we're trying to correct everything that we did wrong in the last couple games in our road trip, and we feel good about that," Hall told the Oilers' official website. Before hitting the road again next week for four games, Edmonton opens this two-game stretch at Rexall Place by trying to win five in a row at home for the first time since a 7-0-0 run Feb. 4-March 2, 2008. The Oilers, though, have not won in any of the Senators' last four visits. Ottawa posted a 5-3 victory in Edmonton on Feb. 12 in the teams' only matchup there in 2010-11. Hall's empty-netter capped the scoring in a 4-1 victory Nov. 29 that snapped the Senators' six-game winning streak in this matchup. Ottawa last won three in a row on the road during a 4-0-0 run March 3-11.
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