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Red Wings, Senators look to improve power play
OTTAWA -- The Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators, two teams desperately trying to fix broken power plays, will square off Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Red Wings took a step in the right direction in their season opener, getting goals by Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin during a 23-second span with the man advantage while defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Thursday.
The Red Wings, who had the 27th-ranked power play in the NHL last season, found a spot on the team for rookie Martin Frk in an attempt to improve the situation. Frk, a 2012 second-round pick with a strong one-timer, picked up his first point when Mantha capitalized on a rebound from his shot.
"That's what we talked about the whole time, we have to be better on the power play," said Frk, who had a goal to go along with the assist in his Detroit debut. "Put the pucks on the net. We did that tonight."
The Senators' 23rd-ranked power play last season came up empty on five chances in a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Ottawa was presented a 4-on-3 when Evgeny Kuznetsov went off for holding 1:04 into the extra session, but couldn't take advantage despite getting five shots on goal during the two minutes.
Both winger Bobby Ryan and coach Guy Boucher took solace in the fact the power play got some good "looks." Boucher, in fact, was not displeased with the power play at all, choosing instead to heap credit on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
"Looking back at the video, it was a lot better than I thought," Boucher said on Friday. "I thought it was good, but we were really good on it. We just didn't put it in. Holtby was outstanding. During our power play, overtime and during regulation. It's too bad they didn't pay off."
The Senators either would not or could not say whether power-play quarterback Erik Karlsson would be in the lineup against the Red Wings. Karlsson, who is on the mend from offseason ankle surgery, practiced in a no-contact jersey again on Friday.
"He looked great," said Boucher, who says Karlsson's status remains day-to-day. "I'll be honest, I've told (the training staff) the day he's ready, you tell me. Today they just told me he's doing great. That's about it for now."
The Senators could also be without veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Capitals. Boucher said he is also day-to-day.
The Senators did confirm that 18-year old rookie Alex Formenton would be making his debut on Saturday. Fronton, a second-round pick, will be the youngest player to suit up for a game in franchise history.
Meanwhile, both teams will also be trying to do a better job of closing games. The Senators had a 3-1 third-period lead evaporate, mostly because of an Alex Ovechkin hat trick, in the 5-4 setback that was decided in a shootout.
The Red Wings were up 2-0 in the third before allowing the Wild to tie the game with a pair of early period goals.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill called the opener a "playoff game."
"That's the way the NHL is today, every game is a playoff game and you've got to find ways to win," said Blashill, whose team got back on track with a Henrik Zetterberg goal that snapped the tie. "I thought we showed great confidence staying with it, and that's a lot to do with Hank."
Updated October 6, 2017