(25-35-9, 15th East)
The Ottawa Senators return home after a 4 game road trip to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have been without Sidney Crosby since early January and Evgeni Malkin since early February. Even without their two superstars, the Penguins have kept pace at the top of the East, remaining within striking distance of the Conference lead. The Penguins are led by C Jordan Staal and D Kris Letang, who is in serious consideration for the Norris Trophy this season. G Marc-Andre Fleury struggled early in the season, but has rounded into form and could post his second career 40-win season. The Penguins are coming off a 5-1 win against Edmonton, while Ottawa dropped a 6-4 decision to the Buffalo Sabres, a game that saw Craig Anderson get the hook after allowing 4 goals on 17 shots.
Ottawa is looking to even the season series, as this will be the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs. Ottawa dropped 5-2 and 2-1 decisions, before defeating the Penguins 3-1 on Dec 26th. That Boxing Day matchup was the last win before the free fall that resulted in the complete destruction and rebuild of the Senators squad.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alex Kovalev, LW- The former Senators winger makes his return to Ottawa. Kovalev has a history of big performances against former teams, so watch out for him tonight. Kovalev has not been good in Pittsburgh this time around, with 1 point (a goal) in 8 games with the Penguins.
Craig Anderson, G – Having been pulled in Buffalo, Anderson will be under scrutiny to see how he comes back after his first bit of adversity in the Senators net. Anderson has never lost to the Penguins in his career (2-0-1), with a 1.13 GAA and .959 save percentage.
LAST 5 GAMES
|PP||1/20 (5.0%)||4/19 (21.1%)|
|PK||10/11 (90.9%)||17/18 (94.4%)|
THREE KEYS TO A SENATORS’ VICTORY
Bounceback at Home – Returning home from a road trip can be a coin flip in terms of effort, but the Senators need to have some jump to start the game. This will be a key game for Anderson to show his true colors after an off game.
Special Teams – Ottawa has scored a power play goal in three straight games, and must continue to succeed with the man advantage tonight. The Penguins’ power play has struggled lately (2 PPG in 11 games), and the Senators PK has been terrific. These trends must continue, because even witout 87 and 71, the Penguins are a superior team on paper.
Scoring Support for Spezza – This Senators team is supposed to be more balanced than previous editions, but Spezza has shouldered the load lately. He needs more support from the other lines.
Be sure to check Senshot after the game for a complete recap.
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