Game 31 Preview & Open Thread: Senators @ Wild

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

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 31OttawaSenatorsMinnesotaWild
GoalsBrady Tkachuk/Claude Giroux13Kirill Kaprizov18
AssistsBrady Tkachuk22Kirill Kaprizov/Mats Zuccarello21
PointsBrady Tkachuk35Kirill Kaprizov39
ShotsBrady Tkachuk131Kirill Kaprizov124
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:52Jonas Brodin22:!1

Team Stats

Game 31OttawaSenatorsMinnesotaWild
Goals Against/GP3.1317th2.87T-13th
Shots Against/GP32.825th29.48th
Powerplay %28.84th25.510th
Penalty Kill %79.712th79.613th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)52.36th50.7015th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)52.2111th51.9312th

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