After two big victories over the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins (2-2) came out of the gate flying with a 2-0 record. Two games later, the team find themselves with a 2-2 record after losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. The Penguins will look to get over .500 again on the young season with a win over the Senators (3-1) in Ottawa at 5:00 PM tonight.
SENS OF URGENCY?
In addition to losing their past two games, the Penguins have not fared well against Ottawa in recent years. Pittsburgh has only won two of the past ten season series between the two teams. Over the past six years, the Senators have won 13 of the 24 matchups in the regular season between the two clubs. However, the Penguins have the edge in victories if the three postseason series are included (20-19). With New Jersey off to a 3-0 start and other Atlantic division rivals starting to get better, the Penguins will need to avoid a three-game losing streak to keep up with the other playoff contenders.
“Always at the beginning of the season, those wins and losing streaks are magnified. Even more so with the shortened season. It’s a big swing. After five more games, we’re gonna be getting to ten games and now we’re talking about halfway through the season. Shortly after that, it’s going to go quicker.”
Tanner Glass did take part in the optional skate this morning, but is a game-time decision because of an apparent shoulder injury. If he cannot play, Dustin Jeffrey will play.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Craig Anderson will be the starting goaltenders for today’s game.
Most hockey fans are well aware of the friendship between Evgeni Malkin and Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar. In addition to playing together with the Penguins for multiple seasons, the two joined Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL during the NHL lockout. This is the first meeting between the two since the lockout ended. Malkin recorded 65 points (23 goals and 42 assists) in 37 games in the KHL while Gonchar tallied 29 points (3 goals and 26 assists). Both players have recorded at least three points in four games already this season in the NHL.
Fleury has struggled against the Senators. The young goaltender has compiled a 7-8-1 record in addition to a 3.56 goals-against average.
Tyler Kennedy has 15 points (10G-5A) in 17 games against the Senators.
With the exception of Pittsburgh, Ottawa is the only team that has not allowed James Neal to score a goal.
Pittsburgh’s and Ottawa’s power play units have been successful as they are ranked third and fourth best, respectively. Pittsburgh has converted on 35.7% of their chances while the Senators have converted on 30.8% of their opportunities with the man-advantage.
Craig Anderson is off to a tremendous start compiling a 3-0 record with a 0.67 goals-against average and a .976 save-percentage. Those last two marks are ranked first in the NHL. Anderson has a 4-2-1 record against Pittsburgh in his career.
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson both produced offensively against the Penguins at a two points-per-game rate last season. Each player had 8 points in the 4 meetings last season. The Penguins only won one of the four, which came at home.
Defending Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is already making a case for another tremendous season. The 22-year old defenseman has notched 3 goals and 2 assists in the first 4 games of the season. Karlsson has recorded 10 points in 10 games against the Penguins, but also has compiled a -7 plus-minus rating.
Probable Senators lines
Probable Penguins lines
You can follow me on Twitter: @PensNation_Andy