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Ottawa Senators hope to gain ground in East during upcoming road swing

01/02/2015 05:06 EST | Updated 03/04/2015 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators are no longer willing to be satisfied with moral victories.

Entering Friday's games, they're seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the season's midway point around the corner. The Senators will also play five of their next six games on the road — making the challenge of gaining ground in the standings a little more daunting.

"The seven points aren't the issue," said goalie Craig Anderson. "The issue is can you beat the other teams when you need to beat them. It's (the four-point games) that matter the most ... can you string some of those together and beat teams that are right ahead of you that you're chasing."

The Senators have had some time off since a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres last Monday. Forward Bobby Ryan led the way in that game with a hat trick.

Ottawa hopes to build off that performance Saturday afternoon in Boston.

"We've outplayed teams and lost," Ryan said. "We've kept pace and lost them, we've outshot them and lost. Now it's time to start putting those building blocks together and last game was a step in that direction."

The Senators will return home for Sunday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning before heading back out on the road for four games.

"You've got to win, that's the bottom line," said Anderson. "Mentally by getting that first win on the road it takes the pressure off your back to keep pressing and try to get points. If you start a road trip 0-1 then maybe you start chasing the game a little bit. We want to win the game, that's obviously a given, but it's the process.

"If we're playing the right way, giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game and we continue to focus our mindset on the process, the results will take care of themselves."

The Senators paid particular attention to their power play on Friday. Head coach Dave Cameron had the two power-play units out on the ice before the rest of the team joined the practice session.

Cameron is hopeful that the minor changes will make a difference in helping end an 0-for-10 drought with the man advantage.

The Senators' power play has also been weak on the road. Ottawa has converted just nine of 65 opportunities with the man advantage away from Canadian Tire Centre.

"I think our power play is a little bit stagnant," said Cameron. "It's been doing some good things, but not enough good things so (we're) just trying to freshen it up and give different looks."

Cameron feels the Senators are getting too many shots blocked, aren't around the net enough and don't shoot the puck enough off the pass. The most significant change was moving Ryan up on the flank on his off-side and putting David Legwand in front of the net.

In addition, Mike Hoffman was absent from the power-play session. He has 11 goals and seven assists but has yet to pick up a power-play point.

Also Friday, the Senators sent defenceman Marc Methot to AHL Binghamton for a conditioning assignment. He has been nursing back and hip problems.

Methot is expected to play Saturday against the Syracuse Crunch. It remains unclear how many games he'll need to play before returning to Ottawa.

"My concern is his fitness level," said Cameron. "You can't fast forward fitness, but there will be so many factors going into that decision that I have no number."

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