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Blue Jackets-Senators Preview

AP - Sports

The Ottawa Senators' current run began with a one-sided road win over the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this month.

Facing them at home could give coach Paul MacLean's team an even bigger edge.

The Senators try to stay hot against the last-place Blue Jackets, who are hoping to avoid a seventh consecutive road loss Sunday.

Ottawa (8-7-4) has followed an 0-3-2 skid by taking four of five, with the first of those victories coming 4-1 at Columbus on Nov. 5. Erik Karlsson scored twice that night while captain Jason Spezza added two assists.

Spezza also came up big Friday, posting a goal and an assist as the Senators stormed back to beat Boston 4-2. Ottawa scored four answered goals to snap an 11-game home losing streak against the Bruins.

"We were using this game as a bit of a measuring stick," Spezza said. "We feel like that's a gritty win for us getting down a couple goals against a team we hold to a high standard. It's a big emotional win for us for sure."

Craig Anderson, who allowed all five goals in a 5-0 loss to Philadelphia three nights earlier, made 30 saves.

"It was a good rebound game for everybody, not just myself, but I think everybody kind of wanted to come back and put out a good effort," he told the team's official website. "We find a way. That's what matters, and we've got something we can build off of now."

The Senators have to be feeling good about keeping things going against the Blue Jackets (6-10-3), who have scored just 12 goals during an 0-4-2 slide on the road. Columbus is mired in a 1-5-3 stretch overall.

After suffering overtime losses at Washington and Boston, Columbus fell 3-2 to Montreal in a shootout Friday. The Blue Jackets went up 2-0 in the first period but couldn't generate any offense the rest of the way.

"We're doing a lot of good things. I think that's maybe the frustrating part," said left wing Nick Foligno, who notched an assist. "There just seems to be that lull, that little moment in the game where we give them a chance to come back or we let them hang around. We had a 2-0 game. You've got to find a way to hold that lead."

R.J. Umberger and Artem Anisimov provided all the offense for Columbus while former Senators goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 38 shots.

"There's a disconnect somewhere," said coach Todd Richards, whose team opens a season-high five-game trek Sunday. "We've talked about it a lot. In the first period we can execute, do the right things, have some success, and then we just abandon it. ... This is the struggle that we have as coaches, trying to find the solution."

While the losses continue to pile up, Columbus, which beat the New York Islanders 5-2 last Saturday, has recorded at least one point in a season-high four straight games.

"I feel like we're right there, we're really close. We have to take the positives," left wing Blake Comeau said. "But with that being said, we have to find that extra gear and find a way to get those two points."

While All-Star Marian Gaborik is expected to miss at least a month with a sprained left knee, the Blue Jackets could be getting some help from forwards Matt Calvert (abdominal surgery) and Boone Jenner (leg), who are both nearing a return.

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