NHL Hockey

Senators to take their best shot versus Sharks

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators have probably already blown their shot at returning to the playoffs with a 4-14-4 dive since mid-November that has seen them fall to 29th in the NHL standings.

But coach Guy Boucher is still imploring them to stop blowing more shots anyway.

Boucher and associate coach Marc Crawford were barking at players in practice Thursday, less than 24 hours after they dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Red Wings in Detroit.

That left the Senators (12-17-9) one of three teams that still hasn't reached the 100 goals scored plateau for the season, a sad stat which Boucher figures is related to the fact they rank 24th in average shots per game with 30.34.

"Production is directly related to the work around the net and that's where it has to improve," Boucher said. "Thirteen times (against Detroit), we could have had a shot, but we decided not to shoot, for whatever reason. We're looking for an extra play. In those 13 shots, there might be a goal in there, there might be momentum, there might be a rebound, a face-off in the (offensive) zone. And we have to value that more.

"Most teams that are at the top, they put more pucks on net to create stuff out of nothing and have secondary chances, which is how most goals happen."

A little extra bear-down could pay dividends Friday, when the Senators host a San Jose Sharks team that suffered a hard-fought 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto that was settled in the sixth round of a shootout.

While the Senators are 17 points behind the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division, the Sharks (21-12-5) are battling for a playoff spot with the Anaheim Ducks at the cutoff line in the Pacific Division.

The Sharks are now 4-1-1 in their last six games.

"It's a good point," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer told The Mercury News after the third contest of a five-game road trip, which includes four consecutive stops in Canada. "You leave a little disappointed, because we had two or three chances in the third to really get two points and then a couple of chances in the shootout and overtime. It was a good hockey game. We'll take the point."

At Canadian Tire Centre, two of the last three Norris Trophy winners will be facing off when San Jose's Brent Burns meets up with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson. Neither is having an award-winning season, however, as Burns is tied for 10th among defensemen with 27 points while Karlsson is tied for 13th with 25.

Even more glaring, however, is their plus-minus marks. Burns is minus-14 while Karlsson is minus-22.

While Martin Jones could get a rest after stopping 26 Leafs shots on Thursday, Craig Anderson will attempt to get back on the road to respectability. Anderson, who struggled through the first three months, had his best game of the season with 33 saves in Detroit.

Anderson is 5-8-0 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .908 save percentage versus the Sharks.

Updated January 5, 2018

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