Game 55: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

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The Ottawa Senators play at the start of January bought them a lot of room for error later in the season. They have used up most of that room now after losing five consecutive games. Ottawa will begin their fifth meeting against the Toronto Maple Leafs sitting three points ahead of Toronto having played three more games. A regulation win and the Senators open up a five point gap, a regulation loss and the lead is down to a single point despite all the extra games played. With Washington's win earlier today, Ottawa is no longer in the top eight in the eastern conference in points per game.

There will no changes to the lineup. Craig Anderson will make his 17th consecutive start and Jason Spezza is healthy enough to play as well. Bobby Butler will be a healthy scratch again for Jim O'Brien. Here are the lines based on the in-game lines from last night.

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Erik Condra
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson (starter)
Alex Auld


Here are some items to look at tonight:

  • Jason Spezza's health: Spezza played only 15:44 last night in an overtime game, which was only sixth most among Ottawa forwards. How badly is he hurting and is it worth risking even in such an important game?
  • Score some goals: The Senators main problem these days isn't defence or goaltending, it is scoring goals. They have only scored 8 goals in the five-game losing streak, and exactly one goal in three of the games.
  • Cowen's mistakes: As poorly as Ottawa played last night, they might have escaped with a win anyway were it not for a couple of shocking decisions by Jared Cowen. How will he respond to that tonight? Paul MacLean put him and Sergei Gonchar on the ice for only one defensive zone face-off last night on even strength.
  • Top lines struggling: While Spezza and Milan Michalek haven't been on target recently, the Leafs have similar problems. Phil Kessel has just three points in his last 10 games. Like the Senators have had strong play from the Alfredsson/Turris line, Mikhail Grabovski has 9 points in the last four games for Toronto.
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