Senators-Blackhawks Preview

The Associated Press

The only thing the Ottawa Senators are doing consistently during their slump is spotting opponents early leads.

Facing a Chicago Blackhawks team that has made a habit of getting on the scoreboard first may only add to those woes.

Struggling Ottawa looks to avoid a fourth loss in five games when it visits Chicago on Tuesday night.

The Senators (4-5-2) have allowed 16 first-period goals - second-most in the league behind Buffalo - and fell to 1-5-2 when allowing the first score after a 5-2 loss to San Jose on Sunday.

They've fallen behind 2-0 in each of the three defeats during their slump, with the lone victory being a 6-1 win at Detroit on Wednesday.

''I just thought we chased the game the whole night,'' coach Paul MacLean said. ''I'm very concerned about the way that we've played to this point in the season.''

Ottawa allowed two goals within the first 6:35 before Erik Karlsson's first-period goal. Marc Methot scored in the second with Karlsson and captain Jason Spezza picking up assists.

''We can't spot good teams leads,'' Spezza said. ''We get behind, and then it doesn't matter what we do. We're chasing the whole game.''

That likely can't happen against Chicago, which scored first for the ninth time in 12 games en route to a 5-1 win at Minnesota on Monday. It improved to 7-0-2 when netting the first goal.

Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist apiece for the Blackhawks (7-2-3), who had allowed 11 goals during a two-game skid. Chicago entered the game last in the NHL with a 72.2 penalty-kill percentage, but it killed all three shorthanded situations against the Wild.

''We haven't been playing the way we want to play,'' said Nick Leddy, who scored a power-play goal. ''We know we can play that way all the time, and I think this gives us some confidence.''

Patrick Sharp had only one assist in his previous five games but scored his second goal of the season. Marian Hossa, who had 188 goals for the Senators from 1997-2004, assisted on Sharp's tally.

''It was nice to put one in. Hopefully that starts something,'' Sharp said.

Corey Crawford made 29 saves, but there's a chance Nikolai Khabibulin gets the nod in net in the second of a back-to-back. Khabibulin, who is 2-5-0 with a 4.08 goals-against average in his last seven against Ottawa, allowed each goal in a 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday in his most recent start.

Craig Anderson, who posted a 3.19 GAA in 56 appearances for the Blackhawks from 2002-06, could be in net for the Senators. He made 24 saves Sunday and is 4-0-2 with a 3.01 GAA in six starts against his former team, though he hasn't faced Chicago since being acquired in a trade with Colorado in February 2011.

No matter who is in net, Anderson said the Senators need to be more disciplined.

''Right now, we make a mistake and it ends up in our net,'' Anderson said. ''I'm not sure how you change that. You need a little bit of luck, but at the same time you've got to limit the amount of mistakes you make.''

The Blackhawks have won five of six against the Senators, with Hossa scoring the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory in the most recent meeting March 2, 2012.

Ottawa hasn't won in Chicago since March 28, 2001.

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