Bright spots have been few and far between this season for the Ottawa Senators, who can hang their hat on registering 16 goals while winning three of their last four contests.
The Senators hope their recent success travels well as they attempt to snap a six-game road winless skid (0-4-2) on Saturday in the opener of a five-game trek against the San Jose Sharks.
Craig Anderson rebounded after allowing seven goals at Pittsburgh on Tuesday by turning aside 37 shots two nights later as Ottawa spoiled the return of Jean-Gabriel Pageau with a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders.
“We have to find ways to make games meaningful for us,” the 38-year-old Anderson told reporters after the game. “Obviously we’re not in the playoff picture, but guys are still playing for pride and jobs and what type of character that we are.”
Anderson cited trying to create a winning culture among the younger players in his postgame comments, and Brady Tkachuk has done his best to send the Senators toward that goal during his two seasons in the league.
Tkachuk ended a seven-game goal drought by scoring in back-to-back games to reach the 20-goal plateau.
“He’s a kid that plays with his heart on his sleeve out there,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said of the 20-year-old Tkachuk, who was the fourth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft.
“He bangs bodies, he’s reckless, and he makes it hard on the other team. Ultimately, it’s great to see him get rewarded.”
Tkachuk, whose goal total trails Anthony Duclair (23) for the team lead among current Senators (Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted 24 before being traded to the Islanders), scored a goal and set up two others in Ottawa’s 5-2 victory over San Jose on Oct. 27.
Duclair tallied in the first encounter with the Sharks and also scored in his return from an ankle injury on Thursday.
Connor Brown has recorded six of his team-leading 42 points over the last six games. Like Tkachuk, the 26-year-old Brown has also tallied in consecutive contests and collected a multi-point performance (one goal, one assist) in the previous meeting with San Jose.
The Sharks saw their three-game winning streak come to a halt with a 3-2 setback versus Minnesota on Thursday. The game, however was played in front of the smallest crowd of the season in San Jose after Santa Clara County officials recommended the team cancel the contest in lieu of growing concerns over the coronavirus.
“The fans who were here were loud, they were into the game and energized. That’s really all you ask,” captain Logan Couture said. “It’s hard to sell out a building when you’re having a down year, and that’s what we have.”
Joe Thornton scored his second goal in three contests to boost his season total to six. The ageless Thornton is expected to play in his 1,634th career game on Saturday, putting him one shy of Hall of Famer Scott Stevens for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time list.
The Sharks will play the fifth contest on their six-game homestand before wrapping up the stretch against Colorado on Sunday.
–Field Level Media