The Ottawa Senators haven’t collected back-to-back victories in North America in nearly a month. They’ll hope for better luck overseas this week.
Ottawa will play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday and the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in the NHL’s Global Series Sweden. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the fourth team playing in Stockholm this weekend.
The Senators started the season 3-1-0 but have lost six of their past nine games.
“A lot of guys have maybe never been here or anywhere outside of North America. Our job as coaches is to let them know these are the same two points that are available in March at home or if we were to go to Columbus or Chicago,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “There are two National Hockey League games and four points available and we’re trying to grab as much as possible. You have to wrap your head around that and not think this is like an exhibition or showcase kind of thing.”
Ottawa played one of its best games this season before departing, posting a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Saturday. Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves as the Senators snapped a five-game home losing streak.
One of those home losses came against Detroit, a 5-2 outcome on Oct. 21 in which Red Wings forward Joe Veleno scored two goals.
Smith anticipates another difficult encounter with Detroit on neutral ice.
“I know the Red Wings, as good as they’re playing, will be ready,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in such a short amount of time. This is a perfect time for us just to be together, get away from everything and learn to grow as a group. We’re here to get points. We’d like to do that and come back a better team.”
The Red Wings have looked like an improved team, and they’ve got a little momentum, too. They notched a 5-4 home win over Columbus on Saturday. Alex DeBrincat, who played for Ottawa last season, ended a seven-game goal drought with a second-period score. He leads the Wings with 10 goals.
Playing against his former team in Sweden will give the contest some extra juice.
“I don’t think we’re going to need to search too hard to find that emotion,” DeBrincat said. “It’s very cool playing over here in general, and it’s a big game for us. They’re always a tough team to play against and they play hard, so we have to match that intensity and really come out strong.”
Lucas Raymond is the only Swede on Detroit’s active roster. However, a large group of fans showed up for a Red Wings practice this week.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” forward Daniel Sprong told the Detroit Free Press. “You could see (Tuesday) there were fans at the practice, Red Wings fans, so maybe they will both feel like home games. There are other Swedish guys on other teams, too, so I know those guys want to play well for their teammates and we want to do the same for Razer (Raymond). So I think it is going to be a fun team for all four teams and we are all excited.”
James Reimer will be in goal for the Wings on Thursday. Ville Husso, who has started 10 games, returned to Detroit due to the birth of his first child.
Detroit will play Toronto on Friday in Stockholm.