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Game 31 Preview & Open Thread: Senators @ Wild

Ottawa looks to make it 5 straights wins as the head to Minnesota

Minnesota Wild v Ottawa Senators Photo by Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

It’s strange to say this about a game on December 17th, but the Ottawa Senators win against the Detroit Red Wings yesterday was easily their biggest of the season. Detroit isn’t in a playoff spot, but they are one of the teams that Ottawa needs to leapfrog if they want to get back into the race. The Senators' 6-3 win was their fourth in a row, and they reached “NHL .500” at 14-14-2 (but not a .500 winning percentage), which is the first time they are at that mark since they were 4-4-0 in the early going.

They’ve gone a remarkable 8-2-1 over their last 11 games, which has salvaged a season that looked lost just a month ago. A win this afternoon would give them five in a row and it would be incredibly impressive considering it’s the second half of a back-to-back on the road against a Minnesota Wild team that is firmly in a playoff spot with 36 points in 30 games.

The lines will be what they went with yesterday:

I would assume that Anton Forsberg is in net instead of Cam Talbot, although that has not been confirmed.

Game Notes:

  • Scott Sabourin was recalled today, although he won’t be playing. Austin Watson was only fined instead of suspended for his interference on Dylan Larkin, and Sabourin was insurance for a suspension. Considering it was Sabourin called up, I feel like they’re expecting a fight with Ryan Reaves today.
  • Ottawa’s powerplay is up to fourth in the league at a rate of 28.8%. They scored three times yesterday and scored twice in each of their previous three wins as well—9/21 or 42.9%. They’ll need it to be successful today in a difficult matchup.
  • Alex DeBrincat has been exactly what the Senators have needed lately. He’s up to 30 points in 30 games, and he even set a cool record for the team last game:
  • The last time the Senators won five in a row was in March 2017 when they actually won six in a row total. Getting a win today would instill a lot of confidence that this team has a lot of resiliency. Even if they lose, they’ve done an excellent job to get back into the mix.
  • The Wild are also hot coming into today’s game as they have won four in a row and are 8-2-0 in their last ten games. They had a slow start at 7-8-2, but have really picked things up over the last month.
  • Our old pal Filip Gustavsson has been fantastic for the Wild with a .921 SV% in 11 games. That doesn’t surprise me that much, as he’s always been incredibly streaky. He benefits from good team defense though, so who knows if that SV% will last. Either way, he’s expected to start today, and I really don’t like that considering Ottawa’s eerily strange record against former Senators goalies:
  • Kirill Kaprizov will have to be neutralized tonight, as the Russian phenom has 39 points in 30 games, good for eighth in the NHL.
  • It’s an early start today at 2:00 EST on TSN5 and RDS.

Player Stats

Game 31 Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Game 31 Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Category Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk/Claude Giroux 13 Kirill Kaprizov 18
Assists Brady Tkachuk 22 Kirill Kaprizov/Mats Zuccarello 21
Points Brady Tkachuk 35 Kirill Kaprizov 39
Shots Brady Tkachuk 131 Kirill Kaprizov 124
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 25:52 Jonas Brodin 22:!1

Team Stats

Game 31 Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Game 31 Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 3.17 16th 3.1 18th
Goals Against/GP 3.13 17th 2.87 T-13th
Shots/GP 33.6 6th 31.2 18th
Shots Against/GP 32.8 25th 29.4 8th
Powerplay % 28.8 4th 25.5 10th
Penalty Kill % 79.7 12th 79.6 13th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 52.3 6th 50.70 15th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 52.21 11th 51.93 12th