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Sens, Wild collide in Minnesota
(SportsNetwork.com) - There is still plenty of hockey left to be played, but that doesn't mean the Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild aren't keep an eye on the standings.
The two clubs look to extend recent surges on Tuesday night with a meeting in Minnesota.
The Senators are 5-0-1 in their last six games, climbing to within two points of the final two postseason spots in the Eastern Conference, while the Wild own a four-point lead for eighth place in the Western Conference thanks to a victory in five of their last six.
Ottawa wraps a four-game road trip tonight and rebounded from an overtime loss in Colorado to beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday. Both Mika Zibanejad and Jason Spezza scored for the Sens in the tiebreaker, while Craig Anderson stopped both skaters he faced.
Kyle Turris scored in regulation while Anderson stopped 32 shots through overtime.
"You don't want to fall behind. We know we're in a lump of a group of teams, but with the games-in-hand and the not-games-in-hand I think it's too early to be looking at where you sit," said Spezza.
Anderson has not lost in regulation since Dec. 19, going 6-0-2 since. However, he has allowed three goals or more in five of those eight games.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has found success despite not having forwards Zach Parise (lower body) and Mikko Koivu (ankle surgery) as well as goaltender Josh Harding (illness) out of the lineup.
The Wild also rebounded from a loss to Colorado, besting the hosting Nashville Predators 4-0 on Sunday.
Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves for his first career NHL shutout, while Dany Heatley, Jason Zucker, Matt Cooke and Marco Scandella all had goals.
Charlie Coyle, skating on a line with Heatley and Zucker, notched a pair of assists.
"I think it's also the first time we've had a couple of guys we've played steady together for more than a game or two," Heatley said. "Like I said, that chemistry's a big deal and it's going good right now."
Kuemper only had to make five saves in the opening period, but turned aside nine in each of the final two frames to finish off the shutout. He will get the call in net again tonight as he faces the Senators for the first time.
Ottawa is 8-3-0 with a tie all-time versus Minnesota and had won six straight in the series before a 4-3 home loss on Nov. 20. Koivu had the winner, Heatley finished with a goal and an assist and Harding made 34 saves.
Turris, Zibanejad and Milan Michalek scored for the Senators, while Anderson made 21 saves.
Sens backup Robin Lehner is slated to get the start tonight and has never faced the Wild. He has given up five goals in each of his last two starts overall, the most recent on Dec. 27.
Ottawa has won three straight on the road in this series and is 4-1-0 with a tie all-time in Minnesota.
The Senators announced on Monday that general manager Bryan Murray signed a two-year contract extension and was also named the president of hockey operations. Upon the conclusion of the extension in 2016, Murray will stay on with the team in an advisory role.
The 71-year-old Murray has been with the franchise since June 2004 when he was named the team's head coach, then took over the general manager's duties on June 18, 2007.
01/14 11:20:36 ET