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Senators’ defense of home ice continues vs. last-place Blue Jackets

Jan 1,, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg (31) settles the puck in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

While the Ottawa Senators continue to play well at home, the Columbus Blue Jackets attempt to end their longest road losing streak of the season.

Amid a season-high five-game home point streak, the Senators will try to hand the Blue Jackets an eighth consecutive road defeat on Tuesday night.

Ottawa opened 2023 with an impressive 3-1 victory over Buffalo on Sunday. Tim Stutzle scored twice, Claude Giroux recorded two assists and ex-Blue Jacket Anton Forsberg made 33 saves in his first action since Dec. 18 for the Senators, who improved to 4-0-1 at home after enduring a rough stretch of eight losses in 10 games there.

The Senators have not scored more than three goals in each of their last six home contests, but they’ve yielded more than two just once in the last five. Shutting down a Buffalo group that had won seven in a row and leads the Eastern Conference in scoring was certainly an important performance after the Senators allowed four answered goals during Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Detroit.

“We just wanted to start the new year off right,” said Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk, who has just two points in his last six contests.

“Everybody left it all out there … We definitely love the challenge.”

It’s been a challenge for Columbus to score goals and win anywhere, of late. However, the Blue Jackets look to build on Saturday’s 4-1 home victory over Chicago that snapped a seven-game slide in which they totaled 10 goals.

“One thing you learn is that winning never gets old,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “We needed (Saturday’s win). We needed it for team morale, really.”

The Blue Jackets’ next step is winning two in a row for the first time since Dec. 9 and 11 and turn things around on the road. Columbus is just 2-11-1 away from home this season.

Gustav Nyquist posted a pair of short-handed goals Saturday and has five points in five games. Meanwhile, rookie teammate Kirill Marchenko has scored three of his five career goals in the last four contests.

In net, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo made 27 saves versus Chicago and has allowed just four goals in three outings since missing six with a lower-body injury. Back from illness, teammate Elvis Merzlikins (4.68 goals-against average) hasn’t played since Dec. 13, while Daniil Tarasov is day-to-day with an upper-body issue.

Blue Jackets star Patrik Laine (16 points) has missed two straight games while in COVID-19 protocol.

Meanwhile, Stutzle has four goals with two assists in the last five games for Ottawa. However, he has just one point in three career games versus Columbus. Giroux has totaled five points in three games and has posted 33 in 34 career contests against Columbus while playing for Philadelphia.

It’s uncertain if Forsberg (3.09 GAA) will make back-to-back starts for the first time since Nov. 16 and 19. Teammate Cam Talbot has allowed seven goals over his last two starts, both on the road, but sports a 1.70 GAA during his personal 3-0-1 home stretch.

It’s the clubs’ first meeting of the season. Ottawa won two of three against Columbus in 2021-22.

–Field Level Media