Senators face Flyers with wild-card hopes fading
The Ottawa Senators are skating a fine line in their quest for the postseason heading into Thursday's game against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
The Senators (36-33-5, 77 points) reside five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with eight games remaining on both teams' schedules.
"I feel like as a team we've rode the highs and the lows," Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said, per the Ottawa Sun. "As we're going through this for the last (six weeks) of pushing down the stretch, we have learned to take it one day at a time and just get back to basics. We're at our best when we're playing fast."
Thachuk has been at his best over the last two weeks, collecting eight goals and three assists. He had one of each on Monday as Ottawa posted its third win in five games with a 5-2 victory versus the Florida Panthers.
Tkachuk notched an assist in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 5 and had three more in a 4-1 victory over the Flyers the following week. Former Flyers captain Claude Giroux also had four points (one goal, three assists) in the two contests against Philadelphia.
Star defenseman Thomas Chabot sustained a wrist injury during the third period of Monday's game and is expected to be out for two weeks.
"He got banged up there," coach D.J. Smith said, per the Ottawa Sun. "He couldn't do much late and couldn't go on."
Fellow defenseman Tyler Kleven is expected make his NHL debut with Chabot out. Kleven was a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft of the Senators, who already are without recent trade acquisition Jakob Chychrun (hamstring).
The Flyers (29-32-12, 70 points) posted their season high-tying fourth straight win and extended their point streak to six games (5-0-1) following their 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Morgan Frost scored two goals versus the Canadiens to boost his point total to seven (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.
"He's getting more and more consistent," Philadelphia coach John Tortorella said of Frost, a former first-round pick. "The goals are the goals, that's great. We're looking for that. But I think he's improved away from the puck, which is a very important part of his game.
"We know he has skill. We need to keep on seeing the skill. But for a coach to put a player on the ice that he's still not sure of, that other stuff has to be sound, and I think he's really improved there."
Frost was quick to credit Kevin Hayes for setting up his first goal on Tuesday. Stationed along the goal line, Hayes found Frost deep in the left circle for the opening goal of the game.
"It was unbelievable," Frost said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think before that happened, I was kind of behind him on the short side calling for the puck. I think he's got unbelievable vision. That's just a really special play to make right through the goalie's stick through the crease. That goal is all him."
Hayes would like one of his own as he is mired in a 19-game goal drought. The veteran forward, however, scored a goal in both previous encounters versus Ottawa.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 29, 2023