Reeling Red Wings look to get on track vs. surging Senators

Less than a month ago, the Ottawa Senators were floundering with a 6-12-1 record. Thanks to a hot streak, they can reach the NHL version of .500 on Saturday afternoon with a win in Detroit.

The Senators are 7-2-1 over their past 10 games, including victories in their last three outings.

“We’re fighting to get back in the pack,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said.

The Senators scored three second-period goals Wednesday and held off the Canadiens’ late charge to win 3-2.

Alex DeBrincat continued to be the catalyst. He assisted on all three goals, stretching his point streak to seven games (three goals, seven assists). DeBrincat, acquired from Chicago over the summer, is tied for second place on the team with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists).

“It takes some time to get used to who you’re playing with and where they’re going to be on the ice,” he said. “I think we’re starting to figure that out a lot better now. Definitely that comfort level is much higher than it was earlier in the season.”

Captain Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist, increasing his team-leading point total to 33. He also tops the club with 13 goals.

Cam Talbot, the goaltender in all three recent wins, made 23 saves.

“Obviously, they had a good push at the end, but we stayed with it,” said rookie Shane Pinto, who scored his 10th goal of the season. “Talbot made some good saves, and we just stayed calm as much as we could. I know it got a little hectic there, but we got two points, so that’s all that matters.”

This is the first of four meetings between the Senators and Red Wings, including three this month. They’ll square off in Ottawa next Friday with the Senators making a return trip to Detroit on New Year’s Eve.

The Red Wings are winless in their past four games (0-3-1) as injuries have piled up. Team captain Dylan Larkin missed the team’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday with a hand injury.

Defenseman Filip Hronek departed in the first period after sustaining a hard hit from the Wild’s Ryan Reaves.

The period after Hronek left the game, Ben Chiarot started a fight with Reaves.

“We don’t expect anyone to have to do this,” forward David Perron said. “We don’t have, so to speak, ‘a tough guy,’ but for him to do that was pretty special.”

Both Larkin and Hronek participated in practice on Friday and are considered game-time decisions. Defenseman Olli Maatta has missed the past four games while battling pneumonia and Detroit has six other players on injured reserve.

Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde didn’t mind seeing Chiarot mixing it up.

“It’s almost like we had to get into the fight. Probably had a lot to do with Benny sticking up for a teammate, but we don’t have a player like that,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever have a player like that, or even want a player like that, so you’re not going to have that, but you can be tough in other ways. You can be tough on your forecheck, you can be tougher protecting your net. I thought for the most part, we pushed back pretty well.”

The three-goal final margin was larger than the feel of the game, as Minnesota scored an empty-netter in the final minute.

–Field Level Media