A serious surge by the Ottawa Senators has them back in the hunt in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sens capped off a highly successful road trip with a 3-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild to make it seven straight games in which they’ve managed to come away with points. The team now sits just one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Kyle Turris continued his solid campaign with a goal and an assist in the victory against the Wild. He’s now racked up 13 goals and 23 assists with an impressive plus-17 rating on the season. His linemate Clarke MacArthur chipped in with his 16th marker of the season. It was his fifth goal in six games. Robin Lehner turned aside 27 shots to record the shutout as the Senators secured seven of a possible eight points on the road excursion. It was Lehner’s first action since Dec. 27 as the team had been riding the hot hand of No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson who has really elevated his game.
On the blue-line, Erik Karlsson continues to be a workhorse for the defensive group. He saw nearly 27 minutes of ice time against the Wild and chipped in with two assists. He continues to lead the club with 43 points on the season thus far. As a whole the Senators have gotten better in their own end, dramatically cutting down on the amount of turnovers.
The turnaround of a maddeningly inconsistent group to one that is finally playing up to its potential began in late December with a key win over the Boston Bruins. Since that time head coach Paul MacLean has seen his charges click on all cylinders in going 6-0-1 against some pretty solid competition. The team’s confidence level has grown dramatically, and they’ve also shown better discipline. Those are encouraging signs heading into what will be a terrific fight to the finish.
While the Senators have come a long way in the standings thanks to a tremendous hot streak, the hard part will be in maintaining a high level of play. The team is well aware that being this close to a playoff spot they can’t afford any major losing skids the rest of the way.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports