Senators must keep focus against lowly Coyotes
OTTAWA -- From hosting the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Ottawa Senators will now settle into an afternoon home game with the NHL's last-place team.
The challenge for coach Guy Boucher is to keep his players focused on their game.
"I don't care what color their jersey is," Boucher said after Friday's practice about taking on the Arizona Coyotes (3-15-3) at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday. "If it's blue, yellow, green, black, I don't care. It's about ourselves. We're not even looking right now at the opponent. We're looking at keeping our game for 60 minutes."
The Senators (8-4-5) played a solid first period in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, then faded in the final 40. It was a costly lapse that dashed any chance of them winning their third game in a row.
The Senators know they can't fall into the trap of taking a lower team lightly now.
"It shouldn't happen, but I do think it does creep in there sometimes," said Mark Stone, who leads the Senators with 12 goals and 19 points. "In our locker room, I don't think it does. Right now, the teams that we know we have to beat we have been able to beat and (Saturday) is no different."
The Coyotes will be entering the game trying to do something they have not yet had the opportunity to attempt -- put together a streak.
In defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 at Bell Centre on Thursday, the Coyotes posted their first regulation time victory of the season.
"It was nice to get a win in regulation, but at the same time I thought we didn't play very good in the first and it's nice to have a comeback in that game," defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said after Friday's practice in Ottawa. "It shows a lot of hard work. It's not easy to play in that building, and playing against a good team too.
"It was a really good effort in the second and third to get back into that game, and that's something that can turn a season like this around, and hopefully get a streak going."
Winger Jordan Martinook said the win in Montreal boosted the morale of his team.
"We've just got to keep building our game," said Martinook. "You look at stretches of that Montreal game, we dominated. If we can play below the dots, (Ottawa) is a very good team off the rush, they've got a lot of skilled forwards, so if we can play as much time in their end it will benefit us."
The Senators lost defenseman/winger Chris Wideman late in the loss to the Penguins when Evgeni Malkin fell on him next to the Ottawa net. Boucher said Friday Wideman had suffered a "ripped" hamstring and would be out "weeks."
The Senators recalled defenseman Ben Harpur, but it's expected they will fill the lineup spot with winger Nick Paul, who was a healthy scratch Thursday.
Mike Condon, who was pulled from his last start after allowing three goals, will get the call in goal for Ottawa.
Antti Raanta, who stopped 27 shots in Montreal, is expected to work the crease for the Coyotes.
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