The Ottawa Senators have faced the Edmonton Oilers seven times this season, and seven times they have lost.
The Senators will get two more chances against the Oilers, hosting matchups Wednesday and Thursday nights.
At least the games are in Ottawa, where the Senators have been competitive at times with the Oilers, losing 3-1 and 3-2 in early February.
But overall, Edmonton holds a 34-15 scoring edge and will look to tie a franchise record Wednesday for longest winning streak against one team in a season, set against the original Winnipeg Jets in 1983-84.
Going into the clash — the first of the final two encounters this season — both squads are coming off disappointing defeats.
Ottawa has one victory in its past four games and just four in 12 outings in the past month (4-5-3). Monday in Winnipeg, the Senators rallied from three goals down in the third period but still lost 4-3.
Meanwhile, the Oilers are on a 5-1-2 run but are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss Monday in Montreal, a game in which they blew a 2-0 lead after two periods.
Tightening up with a lead is the Oilers’ focus.
“We know we can play with a lead and we know we can close those out,” said forward Devin Shore, whose first-period goal was just his second in the past 22 games. “We’re focused on results, and we didn’t get that. We’ll take the point, and I think it’s important not to dwell on it. We know we can close games out, and we just have to make sure that’s what we do.”
The cause of Monday’s overtime loss is simple, according to Oilers coach Dave Tippett: They took their feet off the gas.
“The best way to protect the lead is to play in the other team’s end,” Tippett said. “For the first five minutes or so, we were just too passive. We didn’t do enough forechecking to give us the momentum we needed.”
For Ottawa, making Monday’s game a one-goal loss did not give the Senators a sense of accomplishment. Even though it has become a matter of time before they are eliminated from playoff contention, they are trying to be as competitive as possible every game.
“We didn’t play the way you have to play,” said coach D.J. Smith, who has made it clear he expects better. “We turned way too many pucks over. We weren’t desperate enough. We battled back too little, too late.”
Smith wasn’t alone with that summation.
“We weren’t ready to play, and that clearly showed,” forward Ryan Dzingel said. “I’m sure we’re going to fix it and be ready to go next game because that clearly wasn’t good enough.”
The Senators made some off-ice changes on the eve of the clash. On top of adding goaltender Marcus Hogberg to the main roster from the taxi squad, they hired Zac Bierk as new goaltending coach following the reassignment of Pierre Groulx to a scouting and development role.
“Unfortunately, a number of our goaltending performances this season have been underwhelming,” general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. “I think very highly of Pierre Groulx — he’s as dedicated and tireless a worker as anyone in the organization — but we recently reached a point where we thought a fresh outlook could help return some stability to our crease.”
–Field Level Media