The Ottawa Senators will try to resume their climb into the Eastern Conference playoff race when they host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
The Senators have earned points in seven of their past eight games while going 6-1-1. They will try to rebound from a 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday after they let a 3-1 lead get away.
“It’s the NHL, and if you lay off the gas just for a second, that’s what happens,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said.
“We’re frustrated,” Claude Giroux said. “Anytime you have a 3-1 lead, you want to be a team that knows how to shut teams down.”
In response to the loss, Smith reunited Giroux with Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle on his top forward line during Saturday’s practice to prepare for the game with the Blues.
“That line of Timmy, Brady and G was one of the best lines in the league when they were playing together,” Smith said. “We’d like to see them out there against the other team’s best players.”
The Senators worked Cam Talbot in the starter’s net at Saturday’s practice. He hasn’t played since Jan. 25 because of a lower-body injury, but could return either Sunday at home or Monday in Boston.
“We tried to give Cam a little more action to see where he’s at,” Smith said, noting that whether Talbot plays Sunday “will be 100 percent up to him and the trainers.”
The Blues had their three-game winning snapped Saturday with a 4-1 loss at home to the Colorado Avalanche. That came on the heels of a trade that sent St. Louis captain Ryan O’Reilly and forward Noel Acciari to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s a tough day for everybody in the organization. Players, coaches and families,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We all know what Ryan O’Reilly did for this organization, brought to the organization and Acciari this year, his play.”
Earlier, the team traded forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers. More trades could come as general manager Doug Armstrong retools the roster.
The Blues lost forwards Pavel Buchnevich (lower body) and Logan Brown (upper body) to injuries Saturday. Defenseman Torey Krug sat out the game with a lower-body injury.
The team recalled forwards Nikita Alexandrov and Matthew Highmore from the AHL to fill in.
“It’s not an easy thing that everybody is going through. I know that,” Berube said. “At the same time, I have to coach and do what I’ve got to do.
“Our veterans have got to lead the way. We’re going to have young guys come up and play and other guys put in situations. They want to perform. They all want to be in the NHL”
The Blues won the previous matchup with Ottawa 2-1 on Jan. 16 in St. Louis. Jake Neighbours and the now-departed Acciari scored for the Blues in that game and Jordan Binnington stopped 32 of 33 shots.
Because Binnington started for the Blues on Saturday, Thomas Greiss (5-7-0, 3.29 goals-against average) is likely to get the start in goal Sunday.
–Field Level Media