Ottawa’s Jason Spezza thinks that a blowout loss might not have been the worst thing to happen to his team as the playoffs approach.
Now, however, the Senators will be trying to get their playoff push back on track as they host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
The Senators (40-26-7) ended a three-game winning streak on Sunday, falling 5-1 to the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes. Ottawa had outscored its previous three opponents 11-3 and was coming off a 3-0 victory in Montreal last Thursday.
The Senators trail the first-place Canadiens by just three points in the Northeast Division.
“You’re going to lose games. That’s one of those games you just park,” Spezza told the Senators’ official Web site. “You might as well lose 5-1, 6-1 or 7-1 than lose 2-1 and think you played well. You lose a game by a blowout and that straightens everybody out.
“Sometimes, it’s good to have a game like that where (you think), ‘hey, we played three really good hockey games but we’re not unbeatable or untouchable.’ You get blown out, and it brings everybody back to earth.”
However, the Senators won’t be able to take too many more losses if they hope to earn a high seed in the playoffs, as they are just five points ahead of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. After this game, Ottawa closes out the season with eight division games, including two against the Canadiens.
“Everybody is well aware of the standings and how everybody is playing around them,” coach Bryan Murray said. “They’ve got the message. We all know that, over an 82-game schedule, there are going to be nights where you not very good. We know that as a team and as individuals.”
If recent history is any indication, the Senators have a good chance at picking up some momentum against the Blues (30-32-11). Ottawa is 4-1-0 with a tie in its last six games against St. Louis and has won three straight at home in the series.
The Blues have not won in Ottawa since a 4-1 victory on Jan. 26, 2000.
St. Louis avoided the worst road losing streak in franchise history on Tuesday, winning 4-3 in a shootout in Montreal. The victory was the first away from home since Feb. 14 in Colorado for the Blues, who had gone 0-7-3 since.
“It’s been painful and everything that could happen, happens,” goalie Manny Legace said. “Guys shooting the puck 10 feet wide, it hits somebody and goes in the net. It was just a great effort, though, tonight. It was a great win for us and the mood in there is beautiful.”
Brad Boyes picked up a goal and was the only player to score in the shootout for St. Louis, which owns the second-worst record in the Western Conference. The victory came in the seventh game of a season-high nine-game road trip.
“The mindset going in wasn’t very good, especially when we knew that our road record over the year wasn’t very good going into it and knowing that you lose two games on this trip and you’re done, you’re out of the playoffs,” Legace said. “To lose them both early - it just snowballed after that.”