Senators aim to sweep Cali road trip with win over Sharks
The Ottawa Senators (17-23-5) head into their Saturday night clash with the San Jose Sharks looking for one more successful scene in order to sweep their California road trip.
Ottawa was plummeting though a 0-7-1 skid and sitting last in the Eastern Conference before the trip, but they rattled off comeback victories over the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on consecutive nights earlier this week.
"We showed a lot of character to pull through two wins like that back-to-back on the road after that much adversity," head coach Guy Boucher said after his team collected a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
The Senators beat the Ducks 2-1 in overtime the night before. The Sens had managed only four road victories in their first 19 games away from the Canadian capital.
Making this little winning spree even more impressive is that top-line center Matt Duchene isn't on the trip due to his wife having a baby, and then Colin White left the Kings game early in the first period after suffering a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out at least a few weeks.
The keys to consecutive wins have been timely goals -- for example, Bobby Ryan scored to erase the club's 1-0 deficits in each of the last two games and is riding a six-game point streak with three goals and four assists -- and solid goaltending from Anders Nilsson.
Nilsson had lost his previous 11 consecutive starts, including his first two with the Senators after being acquired via trade from the Vancouver Canucks.
"Always as the new guy on the team you feel like you want to come in and contribute. You want to be a part of the group and you want to help out the guys as much as possible," Nilsson said. "I'm happy they gave me the confidence to play three games in a row here, and I felt good both games."
The Sharks (26-13-7), however, will provide a stiffer test than Ottawa's previous two opponents. The Sharks are riding a five-game winning streak and coming off an impressive 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in which they scored a pair of third-period goals 39 seconds apart to complete the comeback.
By beating the Golden Knights, who had a seven-game winning streak prior to facing the Sharks, San Jose leapfrogged into second spot in the Pacific Division and claimed the 1,000th regular season victory in franchise history. The Sharks needed only 2,112 games to reach that milestone -- the third fastest organization in NHL history, behind only the Philadelphia Flyers (2,018 games) and Montreal Canadiens (2,064).
How hot are the Sharks? Last weekend they handed the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning their first regulation-time defeat in 17 games.
San Jose's not only still receiving strong offence with its deep lineup, but also now benefiting from much-improved goaltending from Martin Jones -- no small feat with both parts of its top shutdown defensive pair, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, sidelined due to injuries.
"He was excellent tonight at the right times," head coach Pete DeBoer said of Jones after the Vegas victory. "You need that kind of goaltending heading down the stretch. He's given it to us in my time here."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 11, 2019