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Penguins aim to rebound vs. Senators

by Mike Battaglino

SENATORS (7-4-2) at PENGUINS (8-5-0)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-4-2, Pittsburgh 6-4-0

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. On Jan. 27, the Penguins won 2-1 in a shootout at Ottawa after the teams combined for 66 shots. Six of the past 25 games between the teams have gone past regulation. The last meeting of this season is April 22.

Big story: After getting swept in a home-and-home weekend series by the New Jersey Devils, the Penguins took a day off Monday and had a rare full practice Tuesday. The consecutive 3-1 losses knocked Pittsburgh from first place in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa comes to Pittsburgh after beating the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Tuesday. The Senators won their first two without Jason Spezza, who hasn't played since that first game with the Penguins, before losing 1-0 twice and 2-1 once this month.

The teams are tied for third in the East with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Team Scope:

Senators: Ottawa improved its league-leading goals-against average to 1.69 with Tuesday's shutout. Goalie Craig Anderson made 42 saves to lower his goals-against average to 1.36.

"[Craig] played very well, obviously, with 42 shots … but I thought there were a number of second and third chances that we cleared away that were dangerous ones, especially when we were taking penalties in the third period which makes it hard," coach Paul MacLean said.

The Senators had two days off prior to Tuesday and have two days off after Wednesday, so Anderson could be called on to play back-to-back here.

Erik Karlsson's shorthanded goal gave him a team-leading six overall. It broke a scoreless drought of 120:54.

"I thought our team played better after we scored the goal, but at the same time, did a great job playing the full 60 minutes," MacLean said. "It was a real good team win."

Penguins: Pittsburgh had won five in a row, outscoring opponents 23-8, before its recent two losses.

"I think we just need to play a little bit more in the opponents' zone," Sidney Crosby said Tuesday. "Our offensive-zone time has got to get a little bit better. I think we saw on the weekend that's something that kind of went against the way we wanted to play. [The Devils] played a lot of time in our end. That's something we usually pride ourselves on, so I think we want to improve in that area."

Defenseman Kris Letang will return from a lower-body injury. In the three games including when he was injured against the Washington Capitals on Super Bowl Sunday, the Penguins' power play was 6-for-10. Since Letang's been out, it's gone 2-for-9.

"I think we were doing really good things. ... We found a setup that we had all good spots," Letang said. "It was just a coincidence that I got hurt there. But we'll keep working on it."

Who's hot: Senators forward Kyle Turris has an assist in seven of his past 10 games, but hasn't scored a goal in nine. Karlsson has a goal in three of his past four. … Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has eight assists in the past seven games.

Injury report: Spezza (back) could return by the end of the regular season. Forward Peter Regin (upper body) is on injured reserve. … Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (lower body) also will return Wednesday.

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