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March 16, 2012


The Ottawa Senators have a chance to grab first place in
the Northeast Division tonight when they host the Montreal Canadiens in the
finale of a home-and-home series at Scotiabank Place.

Despite losing their last two games in shootouts, the Senators enter today's
action just one point behind the struggling Boston Bruins, who are idle today.
Ottawa is also seeded seventh in the East standings, where it is four points
in front of Washington and five in back of New Jersey.

Ottawa had won two straight before dropping a shootout decision Saturday
against visiting Buffalo and the Sens were then dealt a 3-2 setback by the
Canadiens in Wednesday's opener of this home-and-home set. David Desharnais
scored the only goal of the shootout as the hosting Habs claimed the victory
at the Bell Centre.

In the second round, Desharnais snuck a low backhand between the pads of Ben
Bishop. Carey Price then made stops on Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson for
the win.

Desharnais and Erik Cole scored in regulation for the Canadiens, who have won
three of four, but are still 11 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
Price stopped 35 shots for Montreal through regulation and overtime.

"It was a real good group effort tonight," said Cole. "Their team has been
playing real well and they're a tough team to play against. Our guys did a
great job in managing the puck smartly."

Colin Greening and Erik Karlsson both had goals for the Senators, while Bishop
finished the game with 24 stops.

"It was a solid road game, both teams played things close to the vest," said
Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean. "For some reason, this team doesn't bring out
the best in us for some reason. Whatever it is, we have to find the

With No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson still out with a cut on his right hand,
Bishop has started the last four games for Ottawa and he could get the call
again tonight. Anderson has been practicing but is not expected to return
until next week.

For Montreal, forward Scott Gomez will miss a second straight game with a
concussion, while defenseman Tomas Kaberle could be back tonight after sitting
out Wednesday's test due to personal reasons.

Montreal has taken three of four meetings with the Sens this season and the
Canadiens have won seven of 10 in this series overall. The Habs have also
claimed two straight and four of their last five trips to Canada's capital

Ottawa is 18-13-4 as the host this year, while the Canadiens are 15-17-3 on
the road.


The streaking Washington Capitals will try to boost their
playoff chances with a fifth straight win when they visit the Winnipeg Jets in
tonight's Southeast Division showdown at MTS Centre.

The Capitals have won four in a row and have recorded a point in five straight
games, giving them a 7-2-1 mark over the last 10 outings. The surge has
Washington three points behind Florida for the Southeast Division lead and
three in front of Buffalo for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final
playoff seed.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, has won three of its last five games and is four points
behind the Capitals in both the division and conference standings.

The Caps and Jets have split four meetings this season with each team winning
a game at home and on the road. The Jets posted a 3-2 win in D.C. when the
clubs last met on Feb. 9, as Bryan Little provided the shootout winner for the

Washington won the first test of a five-game road trip Tuesday against the New
York Islanders. The Caps, who are just 13-18-3 as the guest this year, hope
they can continue to have success away from home, although they'll face tough
tests in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia before completing the swing.

The Capitals, who could get talented centerman Nicklas Backstrom back from a
concussion soon, received a scare at practice on Thursday when Russian star
Alex Ovechkin was shaken up following a collision with fellow forward Mike
Knuble. Ovechkin laid on the ice for a few minutes and left practice to be

Although Ovechkin did not return to practice, Caps head coach Dale Hunter said
the sniper will be with the team in Winnipeg and also stated that No. 8 will
suit up for tonight's important test.

Meanwhile, Backstrom, who hasn't played since Jan. 3 due to a concussion, has
been skating on his own, but it's unclear when he will be able to return to
game action. The Swedish pivot had 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 38
games before sustaining the head injury.

The Capitals are coming off a 5-4 comeback win over the Islanders. Matt
Hendricks scored in the fourth round of the shootout to eventually secure the
two points for Washington, which trailed by scores of 3-0 and 4-1 before
rallying for the victory.

Ovechkin scored twice in the comeback, making it a 4-2 game with just 53
seconds left in the second period and then tying the score at 4-4 with his
29th goal of the season at 10:15 of the third.

"We have plenty of leaders on this team and they've been speaking up," said
Washington head coach Dale Hunter. "I'm not sure of everything they said, but
it worked and we got a big two points."

Knuble and Dmitry Orlov also scored in regulation for the Caps, while Keith
Aucoin added three assists. Michal Neuvirth turned away 26 shots through
regulation and overtime.

The Jets ended a two-game slide in their last contest, posting a 5-2 win over
the previously red-hot Dallas Stars. Andrew Ladd scored two goals, leading
Winnipeg to the comfortable win over the visiting Stars, who entered the
contest with a six-game winning streak and a 10-0-1 record in 11 tests.

Nik Antropov, Evander Kane and Eric Fehr also scored, while Blake Wheeler
added a pair of assists for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves in the

"I think we feed off the crowd here, for sure," Ladd said. "When we get the
first goal, it seems like we get energized from that and our home record
speaks for itself."

Winnipeg has been very tough to beat on its home ice this season, posting a
22-10-4 record at the MTS Centre compared to an 11-19-4 record everywhere
else. The Jets are playing the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight
and will close the residency Sunday against Carolina.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (38-25-8) AT DALLAS STARS (39-27-5), 8:30 P.M.

After suffering their first regulation loss in nearly a
month, the Stars will try to get back on track tonight against a visiting
Chicago Blackhawks team that Dallas has had a great deal of success against

The Stars had won six straight and were boasting a 10-0-1 record in 11 games
heading into Wednesday's tilt in Winnipeg, but the Jets breezed to a 5-2
victory over Dallas. It was the club's first regulation setback since a 3-2
home loss to Nashville on Feb. 19.

The loss in Winnipeg opened the door for Phoenix to tie Dallas for first place
in the Pacific Division, but the Coyotes lost a regulation decision in Calgary
on Thursday, leaving the Stars with a two-point lead atop the division.

The Stars have won two of three meetings with Chicago this season and have
taken five of six from the Blackhawks dating back to last year. Chicago also
has lost three straight and four of its last five games in Dallas.

Dallas was down 1-0 after the first period in Winnipeg and then let things get
out of hand in the second. The Jets scored three goals in the first 9:15 of
the middle stanza and then pushed their lead to 5-0 with 3:48 left in the

"We knew they going to come out hard," Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said.
"After being down 1-0, I thought we were fine, but we just didn't show a lot
of resolve in the second."

Loui Eriksson scored both goals for the Stars, while Richard Bachman was
tagged for all five tallies on 28 shots in defeat. Bachman was making his just
his fourth start since the beginning of February, but No. 1 netminder Kari
Lehtonen will be back between the pipes tonight.

Tonight marks the first of four straight on home ice for the Stars, who are
20-12-3 as the host this season. Dallas will welcome the Coyotes for an
important Pacific battle on Tuesday before completing the residency with tests
against Vancouver and Calgary.

Stars forward Radek Dvorak will miss a third straight game this evening with
an ankle injury and defenseman Philip Larsen is questionable after suffering a
lower-body injury against the Jets.

Chicago has played solid hockey in recent weeks, winning two of its last three
games to post a 5-1-1 mark over its last seven outings. With 84 points, the
sixth-seeded Blackhawks are three points ahead of Phoenix and Colorado in the
West standings.

The Blackhawks beat the first-place St. Louis Blues in their most recent
outing on Tuesday. Patrick Kane netted the lone goal in the shootout to
complete Chicago's 4-3 comeback win over the visiting Central Division

Chicago scored the first goal on Tuesday just 2:51 into the game, but the
Blues would hold a 3-1 lead by the end of the opening period. The Blackhawks
scored one goal in each of the next two stanzas to force overtime.

After a scoreless extra session, Kane opened the shootout by sliding a
backhander between the pads of Jaroslav Halak. Corey Crawford then stopped
T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald and David Perron to cap the win.

"That was a really fun game and it's great to win one of those, especially at
home," said Kane. "I think the crowd got us pumped up when we got down there
by a couple. Good game and a big two points."

Andrew Brunette, Viktor Stalberg and Brent Seabrook tallied in regulation for
the Blackhawks. Ray Emery started in net, but was removed after allowing three
goals on six shots in the first period. Crawford ended the contest by stopping
18-of-18 shots through regulation and OT. Crawford will get the start tonight
over Emery, who missed practice on Thursday with an illness.

The Blackhawks, who are just 14-18-3 as the road team this year, will be
without captain and leading goal-scorer Jonathan Toews for a 12th straight
game this evening. Toews, who has 29 goals and 57 points in 59 games, hasn't
played since Feb. 19 due to concussion-like symptoms.

Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is questionable for tonight's game with
an upper-body injury.

CALGARY FLAMES (34-25-12) AT EDMONTON OILERS (27-36-7), 9:30 P.M.

Quick starts and their longest winning streak of the season
have the Flames right in the thick of the playoff race. Calgary looks to jump
into one of the Western Conference's postseason spots this evening against an
Edmonton Oilers club looking to play spoiler.

That could be easier said than done for the Oilers, who have lost 16 of 18 and
19 of their last past 24 versus the Flames. Edmonton did snap a nine-game skid
in the Battle of Alberta with a 6-1 win at Calgary on Feb. 21, getting three
points from both Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle, but has lost four straight and
nine of its past 12 at home in this series.

The Flames will look to avoid losing consecutive games to the Oilers for the
first time since Oct. 17-18, 2008 and extend a five-game overall winning
streak tonight. Calgary lengthened its run last night with a 4-1 win over

Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves for the Flames, who are on their longest
winning streak since a six-game run from Jan. 21-Feb. 3 of last year. The win
also pulled Calgary just a point behind Phoenix and Colorado for the final two
playoff spots in the West. The Flames can make a move tonight thanks to their
win over the Coyotes as both Phoenix and Colorado are idle tonight.

"Phoenix is a team that plays hard and every shift is a tough shift," said
Calgary head coach Brent Sutter. "Tonight was a lot of trench work, a lot of
work on the boards and we got some timely goals."

Playing in his fourth NHL game, Sven Baertschi scored for a third consecutive
outing, while captain Jarome Iginla matched a career high by scoring in his
sixth straight contest. Iginla, who has 31 goals on the season, has eight
tallies and six assists over an eight-game point streak.

"I'm feeling better. It's something that, during the course of the year you go
through ups and downs," said Iginla. "You try to make the tough stretches as
short as possible and that ones that you're feeling good and feeling better as
long as possible. You just keep going. I think our whole team is feeling

Iginla has two goals and six points in five meetings with the Oilers this

Matt Stajan scored last night to run his point streak to five consecutive
games (3 goals, 3 assists) and Alex Tanguay also lit the lamp.

Calgary has scored first in 12 of its past 13 games, a trend it will look to
continue this evening against an Edmonton squad that snapped a three-game
slide with Wednesday's 3-0 defeat of Columbus.

Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves to notch his second shutout of the season and
fourth of his career, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied a goal and an assist.

The Oilers won for the only second time in eight games two nights after head
coach Tom Renney ripped his club following a defeat to the Sharks.

"The guys responded really well," said Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff. "I think
we dictated how we wanted to play that game. We have to do more of that. We
were more aggressive and we took it over right from the start."

Taylor Hall extended his goal-scoring streak to four straight games and Linus
Omark also scored for Edmonton.

LOS ANGELES KINGS (33-25-12) AT ANAHEIM DUCKS (30-30-11), 10 P.M.

While the Kings are still in the postseason hunt, the Ducks
have become a long shot to extend their schedule beyond the regular season.
Los Angeles will look to deal another blow to Anaheim's playoff chances this
evening with a third straight victory.

The Kings enter play 11th overall in the Western Conference with 78 points,
three back of the Coyotes and Avalanche for the final two playoff spots in the
conference. They also sit five behind the first-place Stars in the Pacific

Things are more dire for the Ducks, who are 12th overall in the West, seven
points behind the Kings with 11 games to play.

Los Angeles won for the fifth time in seven games on Tuesday, recording a 5-2
win over Detroit. Drew Doughty notched the game-winner, while Justin Williams,
Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar all ended with a goal and an assist.

The Kings improved to 7-0-0 this season when they scored five goals and 16-0-2
when they net at least four tallies.

"Our special team were good tonight," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "We
had a good first period and weathered the storm in the second. With a little
bit of luck, you win the game."

Dustin Brown had a pair of assists, extending his point streak to a career
high-tying nine straight games. Los Angeles' captain has five goals and nine
assists over that span, while Carter has five goals and two helpers in nine
games since being acquired from the Blue Jackets.

Jonathan Quick made 22 saves for the Kings, who have won four of five over the
Ducks this year. That includes a split of two games in Anaheim.

The Ducks snapped a three-game slide with Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Red
Wings. Anaheim moved to 11-6-4 in its past 21 games.

Jonas Hiller made 23 saves in his fourth shutout of the season, while Teemu
Selanne scored to post the 1,400th point of his career.

"We played well tonight and we were rewarded with a win," said Hiller
following his 15th career shutout.

Kyle Palmieri scored twice and Bobby Ryan also had a goal as the Ducks won the
opener of a three-game homestand. They have won three in a row while posting a
12-2-1 mark over their past 15 at home.

Anaheim played a second straight game without Corey Perry due to a right
shoulder ailment. The forward leads the Ducks with 34 goals.

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