The Ottawa Senators briefly stumbled coming out of the All-Star break before quickly finding their footing.

Winners of two in a row and six of their past seven games, the Senators will aim to continue their strong surge on Friday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ottawa answered a 6-3 setback to the Edmonton Oilers last Saturday with a pair of post-regulation victories. The Senators recorded a 4-3 overtime win versus the Calgary Flames on Monday, and benefited from a 46-save performance in Kevin Mandolese’s NHL debut on Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout victory against the New York Islanders.

“With efforts (put forth in the last two wins), it speaks volumes for our group that no matter what the situation is, that if we play our game, we’re just a tough team to maintain,” captain Brady Tkachuk said, per the Ottawa Sun. “Whether it’s the first shift of the game or the last two minutes, if we play the right way and do what it takes, then we’re tough to maintain.”

Tkachuk collected a goal and an assist in each contest to extend his point streak to four games (three goals, four assists). The All-Star Game MVP leads the Senators in assists (34) and points (56), while his 22 goals are just two shy of Tim Stutzle for top honors on the club.

Speaking of Stutzle, he boosted his point total to 10 (four goals, six assists) over the past four games after contributing a goal and an assist against the Islanders. He even netted the winning tally in the shootout to boot.

“Speechless,” Tkachuk said when asked about Stutzle. “He’s 21 years old and you’re seeing the level that he’s at already. It just kind of gets you excited; the Senators fan base should be pretty thrilled with what they’re going to see for a bunch of years from him.”

While Ottawa is ascending, Chicago continues to plummet in the standings. The Blackhawks lost their third in a row and seventh in their past nine games (2-6-1) following a 5-2 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

“The hockey gets harder as the season goes on,” Chicago’s Max Domi said. “It’s a good test and we have to find ways when we start feeling like that to weather the storm a little bit. It’s been a few games of kind of up and down a little bit, but I thought there’s bits and pieces certainly a lot better (Wednesday) than last game (a 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday).

Domi, who has a club-best 36 points, shares the team lead in goals (14) with captain Jonathan Toews and Taylor Raddysh.

Star Patrick Kane, who has a team-leading 26 assists, owns a minus-5 rating while being held off the scoresheet in each of his past four games.

The Senators will retire former alternate captain Chris Neil’s No. 25 prior to the game. Neil spent 15 seasons with the team after he was selected by Ottawa in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft.

–Field Level Media