Moral victories have the Ottawa Senators gaining confidence. Some actual wins would be much better.
The Senators will try to turn another strong effort on the ice into a positive outcome when they visit the struggling Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Ottawa (13-16-3) is 4-9-2 since a stretch of seven wins in nine games concluded more than a month ago. The club has been outscored 24-9 while dropping five of six on the road since.
Despite those struggles, the Senators are feeling positive about their recent play. They overcame a three-goal deficit to force overtime Monday against Atlanta, though they fell 4-3 in the extra session.
"We're happy with how we played in the last couple of games and it's definitely something to build on," coach Cory Clouston told the team's official website. "You have to be able to build on something. Otherwise, why don't you just throw in the towel? And we're not ready to do that.
"So we played well (Monday) and we came back ... We're not happy with the loss but we definitely are happy with the way we played. That's all we can focus on right now."
The star right wing, who leads the team with 19 points, scored for the first time in 12 games Monday to end his career-worst 10-game point drought.
Alfredsson has two goals and seven assists in eight games against Minnesota (13-12-4).
Ottawa is 6-2-0 with a tie all-time against the Wild, winning each of the last four meetings including a 4-1 home victory Dec. 19, 2009. The Senators' last visit to Minnesota was a 5-3 win Feb. 14, 2009.
This is the only home contest in a six-game stretch for the Wild, who return for a brief stay after splitting a four-game road trip.
Minnesota turned in a shaky effort in Sunday's 6-2 loss at Anaheim, getting outshot 36-22.
Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves against the Ducks and could return to the bench in favor of Jose Theodore, as a goaltending controversy appears to be brewing.
Backstrom is 1-4-1 with a 4.80 goals-against average in his last six games, while Theodore is 1-2-1 with a 2.93 GAA in his four most recent starts. Theodore's 24-save performance Saturday helped the Wild to a 3-2 overtime win at Los Angeles.
"We take it game by game," coach Todd Richards said of the goaltending situation. "If one of them steps to the forefront and can run with the ball, then that's what we'll do. Theo has been pretty good as far as consistency. We didn't help (Backstrom) out in Anaheim, but he also needed to be sharper.
"The thing that we look out too is numbers. Who's got good numbers against teams playing at home or on the road. A lot of times we make decisions based on that."
That could mean Theodore will be back in net, as he's 2-1-1 with a 2.71 GAA in his last four meetings with the Senators. Backstrom is 0-1-0 with a 4.21 GAA in two matchups, including getting pulled the last time the Wild hosted Ottawa.
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