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Game 79 preview: Ottawa Senators @ Philadelphia Flyers

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers on 2 April 2016.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators are riding a two-game winning streak heading into an afternoon match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers at 1:00pm. The Sens will be reduced to playing out the string with four games to go after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week.

Heading into their third and final meeting, the Sens hope to play a spoiler role and close out the season series with a win after the previous two have been split (4-0 OTT, 4-2 PHI). On the other side, the Flyers are still battling for a playoff spot with the Detroit Red Wings. The Flyers are tied with Detroit but have two games in hand. The Sens can do the Wings a huge favour by beating the Flyers in regulation this afternoon.

Marc Methot will miss the game with the flu and will be replaced by Mike Kostka. Andrew Hammond will get the start between the pipes, with a 0.96 GAA and 2-0-0 record against the Flyers.

Lines for this afternoon:

Smith - Pageau - Ryan
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Puempel
Paul - Lazar - Chiasson
Dzingel - Gomez - Neil

Claesson - Karlsson
Kostka - Ceci
Harpur - Wideman

Hammond (starter)
Anderson

Some notes for tonight:

  • With four games to go in the season, Erik Karlsson leads all defencemen with 78 points. The 80-point mark hasn't been touched by a defenceman since Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06.
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau had an unreal game against the Wild on Thursday. He scored a goal, added two assists, and won 60% of his draws. He also leads the league with six shorthanded goals, two more than the second place tie between Zack Smith and Brad Marchand. The Sens lead the league with 15 shorthanded goals.
  • The last time these two teams met, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds combined for 5 points in their 4-2 win back on December 1st.
  • Mark Stone continues to lead the league in takeaways with 128. That is 55 more takeaways than second-place Jeff Skinner. Say what you wish about the validity of the stat, but when there is such a wide margin between first and second, there's something to be said about his takeaway ability.
  • The Sens hold the league's 28th ranked powerplay, only scoring on 15.4% of their opportunities. Unfortunately, their penalty kill has been no better. They've killed off 75.9% of penalties, second-worst in the league. Special teams are likely a huge contributing factor for the Sens being on the outside of the playoff picture at this point.
  • What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Sens came into Philadelphia for an afternoon game and clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 win. This year, it's the Flyers who are pushing for a playoff spot while the Sens try and spoil the fun.
  • The role of assistant captain has made its rounds this season: Chris Neil, Chris Phillips*, Kyle Turris, Dion Phaneuf, Mark Borowiecki, Mark Stone, and Bobby Ryan have all sported the "A" this season.
  • Ben Harpur played 12:57 in his NHL debut on Thursday. Congratulations Ben!

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net. Note that Corsi is now adjusted for score as well as the venue and event type.

Category Ottawa Philadelphia
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 27 Wayne Simmonds 26
Assists Erik Karlsson 63 Claude Giroux 43
Points Erik Karlsson 78 Claude Giroux 65
Shots Erik Karlsson 236 Claude Giroux 222
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 29:03 Michael Del Zotto 23:24

Category Ottawa Philadelphia
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.77 9th 2.57 21st
Goals Against 2.96 27th 2.53 12th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Corsi % 47.8% 22nd 50.6% 13th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick % 47.3% 23rd 51.0% 12th
Shots For 28.2 28th 30.8 6th
Shots Against 32.7 30th 31.0 25th