The Ottawa Senators and their captain Brady Tkachuk took a step toward a return to the playoff profile on Wednesday, but they’ll need some more to carve out a place among the eight Eastern Conference teams competing in the postseason participate in games.
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Thanks in large part to Tkachuk, author of the decisive goal in the 5-4 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Canadian Tire Centre, head coach DJ Smith’s men came within eight points of their rivals of the day, the clubs’ defending second pass champions moved in. And the two teams meet in Pennsylvania on Friday for another all-important duel.
If everything is not going perfectly technically, the senators keep hope and above all want to know a long winning streak. You’ve been on one roller coaster ride too many times this season and time is running out. Their players are well aware of that.
“They’re the ones we’re trying to catch,” the captain told NHL.com. We approach these encounters as a matter of life and death. We were in a series atmosphere. There was energy and emotion. That’s how we want to play and we want to carry those aspects over to the next game.”
However, Ottawa must rely on more to move up the table, including a goalkeeper in full possession of his means. Also, Cam Talbot needs to be more solid, unlike Wednesday’s game where he showed signs of weakness. On the other hand, he still has Smith’s trust.
“He allowed us to win several games in December, we mustn’t forget that,” said the driver. We could have easily taken the loss a couple of times last month but it helped us. This time we backed him for a win. He will have many more chances to win.”
The CH could play the spoilsport
Between now and the All-Star hiatus, the Senators will play six games, including a home and away series against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 28-31. They’d better use these dates with the Atlantic Division’s worst team to earn points as they still have quite a few competitors to overtake besides the Penguins.
Ahead of them are the New York Islanders, who are parading through the federal capital on Wednesday, the Florida Panthers, the Buffalo Sabers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers.