Game 79: Ottawa Senators @ New York Islanders - Sens look to clinch

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The Ottawa Senators have had their fortunes change wildly in the last two weeks. On 17 March, the Senators woke up in first place in their division, but on 24 March they had lost three in a row and had their lead for the last playoff spot down to two points. Today, Ottawa has a four point lead on Buffalo, plus a game in hand. A win before the shootout today would officially clinch a playoff spot for the Senators as they would hold a six point lead (and a lead of four in the non-shootout wins) with three games left. On the other hand, if the Bruins match or better Ottawa's result, they will clinch the division title. Realistically speaking, any win would clinch a playoff spot, as the head-to-head is even and Ottawa has a lead of 21 goals in the goal difference. But, it must be before the shootout to be official.

No practise today but Jesse Winchester is expected to return to the lineup according to Bruce Garrioch. At the time of writing, it isn't known who he will replace, but Rob Klinkhammer, Zack Smith and Kaspars Daugavins had limited ice time in Philadelphia.

More after the jump.

Here are some things to discuss for today:

  • Clinch a playoff spot: The Ottawa Senators can clinch a playoff spot with a week to go. Incredible.
  • Anderson in back-to-back games: Anderson will return to a busier workload as he plays for the second straight day. With Ottawa needing only one win in their next four games, will Alex Auld get a game at some point if they can't catch New Jersey?
  • Offence clicking: The Senators have won three games in a row despite allowing a total of 11 goals in them. Why? Because they scored 17 in those three games. Ottawa is now fourth in the NHL in goals per game, ahead of teams like Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago.
  • Dominating the Atlantic division: The Atlantic Division might be the best division in the east, but Ottawa has an 11-4-3 record against them, including 2-0-1 against the Islanders.
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