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Surging Senators collide with hot Hurricanes

By Jeff Mezydlo

Stats Senior Writer

Ottawa (32-30-10) at Carolina (40-28-7), 7:00 p.m. EDT

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes' recent

success has them moving up the Eastern Conference standings. The

Ottawa Senators have played even better of late, but are likely

to miss the playoffs the first time in 12 seasons.

On Wednesday night, two of the NHL's hottest teams look to

extend winning streaks as they conclude the season series at the

RBC Center.

Carolina (40-28-7) tries for a season-high fifth straight

victory after winning 3-2 in overtime at Florida on Monday. The

result moved the Hurricanes to fifth in the East and three

points behind fourth-place Philadelphia with seven games


"We're winning some games the ugly way, we're winning some

pretty games," said Ray Whitney after scoring the winner for

Carolina, which improved to 8-1-2 in March. "We're winning in a

bunch of different fashions."

The Hurricanes hope to get back on the winning track against

Ottawa (32-30-10), which has won the last two meetings, but

hopes to avoid losing three in a row at Carolina. The Senators

fell 2-1 there on Nov. 7.

The Senators also will try for a season-high sixth straight

victory after winning 2-1 over the New York Rangers on Sunday to

open a six-game road trip.

With 10 games left, Ottawa is nine points behind Montreal for

the final playoff spot in the East. The Senators, who reached

the Stanley Cup finals two years ago, haven't missed the

postseason since 1995-96.

"You lose one game here and there, and mathematically you could

be out of it," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "Our

approach is to just win every game and keep this positive thing


Despite being held without a point against the Rangers,

Alfredsson has two goals and five assists in his last four games

overall and four assists against Carolina this season. He had

two of them in the Senators' 4-2 home win over the Hurricanes on

Feb. 24 in the teams' most recent meeting.

Rookie Brian Elliott made 23 saves in Ottawa's 5-1 win over

Carolina on Jan. 13 and is expected to be in goal trying for his

ninth straight victory after sitting out Sunday. Elliott is

15-4-3 with a 2.67 goals-against average.

Mike Comrie, who had a goal versus the Hurricanes last month,

scored against New York after the flu kept him out of the

previous three games for the Senators, who are 9-1-0 since

losing three in a row.

"The odds are still really against us, and what's been working

for us is thinking about the next game," forward Jason Spezza

told the Senators' official Web site."That's how we've been

winning and there's no point in changing now."

Carolina hopes to change that as it tries to return to the

postseason for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in


Tuomo Ruutu matched a career high with his 23rd goal and Cam

Ward made 37 saves in his 22nd consecutive start Monday for

Carolina, which plays five of its final seven at home.

Ruutu has two goals in his last three games while Whitney has

six and 11 assists in 11 contests this month. Both, however,

have combined for one assist against Ottawa this season.

Ward is 34-22-5 with a 2.50 GAA overall, but 0-2-0 with a 6.00

GAA against the Senators this season.


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