It was bad enough that the Ottawa Senators went 1-6-1 on their extended road trip that ended with another loss on Thursday. Having to stay another night on the road because of plane difficulties was just the latest in this season of setbacks.
After returning to Ottawa on Friday morning, the slumping Senators will host their first game in three weeks on Saturday night against a New York Rangers club that has dropped six of eight.
Forced to play an eight-game road trip due to the world junior tournament at Scotiabank Place from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, the Senators (13-20-6) look to snap their four-game losing streak on Saturday.
Ottawa dropped to 1-13-3 in its last 17 road games with Thursday’s 6-4 loss to Boston.
“I do believe we’re working really hard to get wins,” captain Daniel Alfredsson told the team’s official Web site. “We’re very fragile, too, and when we do get a goal (scored) against us or things don’t go our way, I can see we do get away from our gameplan and don’t follow through and trust the group.”
Alfredsson, who had a four-game point streak snapped against the Bruins, gave the puck away near the Senators’ net as Boston took a 4-3 third-period lead.
Alfredsson has points in four straight games against the Rangers, including a goal in both meetings this season.
Senators leading scorer Dany Heatley had an assist on Thursday - his seventh in nine games - but has no goals since tallying two in Ottawa’s first game of the trip, a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 23.
Heatley has 14 goals and 18 assists in 25 career games against the Rangers.
The Senators’ goaltenders have been as much to blame as anyone for this slide. Martin Gerber, who allowed a season-high five goals against Boston, has lost eight of his last 11 starts. Alex Auld has struggled even more, dropping his last seven starts with a 4.38 GAA.
“You try to trust your best guys,” Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg said. “It’s those guys that cost us the game (against Boston).”
Hartsburg, whose job along with general manager Bryan Murray’s could be in jeopardy, brought up goaltender Brian Elliott from AHL Binghamton on Friday. Elliott, 18-8-1 with a 2.31 GAA with Binghamton, is likely to make his second career NHL start on Saturday.
Ottawa will get Filip Kuba back after he missed the trip with a groin injury. Kuba is the team’s top scoring defenseman with 22 points.
New York (24-15-4) arrives in Ottawa for the second time this season after opening its season-high five-game road trip on Friday with a 2-1 shootout loss to Buffalo.
The Rangers, who have dropped a season-high three in a row on the road, lost 4-1 in Ottawa on Nov. 22.
With first-time All-Star Henrik Lundqvist getting the night off, backup Steve Valiquette stopped 32 shots on Friday.
“If I go a week or three between games, I know I’m going to be ready to play,” said Valiquette, who had 32 saves in the Nov. 22 loss. “We can’t control the outcome of the game, but our performance is very much within it.”
Lundqvist is expected to start on Saturday. He had 27 saves in the Rangers’ 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Ottawa on Nov. 17.
The Senators have won eight of their last 11 home games against New York.