The Ottawa Senators are playing themselves into the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets are playing well enough to serve as a potential spoiler down the stretch.
The Senators aim for a season-high fifth consecutive victory when they host the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
With just over a month remaining in the regular season, Ottawa is four points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Senators have totaled 61 goals during their current 11-3-1 stretch, and they have outscored opponents 22-8 during their four-game winning streak.
“Last month, we set new goals for ourselves, and it’s been going well, so we aren’t going to change anything,” said Senators forward Derick Brassard, who has three goals and five assists in his past seven games.
Brassard scored twice in his 1,000th career game on Thursday, while Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists during Ottawa’s 5-3 road win over the New York Rangers. Giroux has 11 goals with 13 assists in his past 16 games for the Senators, who last won five in a row during the 2016-17 season — when they last made the playoffs.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what we can build here and make a big push to get in the playoffs this year,” said defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who was a plus-1 while making his Ottawa debut on Thursday after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes earlier this week.
The Senators, who also acquired defensive-minded forward Patrick Brown from the Philadelphia Flyers prior to Friday’s trade deadline, beat Columbus 4-0 on Jan. 3. Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist, Brassard also scored, Giroux added two assists and Anton Forsberg made 22 saves for the shutout.
Though the Blue Jackets have the lowest point total in the NHL and fell 4-2 to the visiting Seattle Kraken on Friday, they are amid a 4-2-2 stretch and playing with more confidence. Columbus last dropped back-to-back contests in regulation on Jan. 27 and 28.
“We were just a little bit behind (against Seattle),” said Columbus forward Patrik Laine, who had a goal and an assist on Friday to give him four goals and six helpers in his past nine games.
“Two (goals weren’t) enough (Friday). Just try to figure out how to win a game (against Ottawa) … Just got to find a way to score more than they do.”
Blue Jackets star Johnny Gaudreau leads the team with 55 points, and he finally recorded one on Friday after being blanked in the previous two contests.
Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who made 31 saves on Friday, has allowed at least three goals in 11 straight starts. Meanwhile, Michael Hutchinson could make both his 2022-23 and Blue Jackets debut in net after being acquired from Vegas in the Thursday deal that sent Jonathan Quick, brought over from Los Angeles earlier this week, to the Golden Knights.
Ottawa’s Cam Talbot made 29 saves vs. the Rangers, and he has posted a 2.32 goals-against average while winning three of his past four starts. Meanwhile, current backup Mads Sogaard is 4-0-1 with a 2.33 GAA since making his season debut on Feb. 11.
–Field Level Media