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Penguins-Senators Preview

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (12-32-11) at Ottawa Senators (35-12-5).

TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Ottawa Senators' only win in their last four games came against the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Senators will look to the Eastern Conference's weakest team for another win when they meet the Penguins for the second time in five days.

The Senators began the season as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 27-6-3 through December, but they are 8-6-2 since the start of January.

Ottawa lost for the third time in four games, falling 2-1 in a shootout Saturday to the Buffalo Sabres.

Bryan Smolinski scored for the Senators, who are 2-4 in shootouts this season.

Goaltender Dominik Hasek stopped 26 shots, but has lost two of his last three starts. Hasek and Manny Legace of the Detroit Red Wings are tied for the league lead with a 2.02 goals-against average.

"We've been struggling since Christmas," said Hasek, who spent nine seasons with the Sabres from 1992-2001. "We played a good game, but unfortunately it wasn't enough for us to win it."

After scoring three power-play goals and three short-handed goals in a 7-2 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, the Senators' potent special teams play was held in check by Buffalo.

"It was a tight game," said Dany Heatley, Ottawa's second-leading scorer with 33 goals and 37 assists. "It's just tough to lose in a shootout."

Pittsburgh scored all its goals with the man advantage in a 5-4 shootout loss Saturday to the New York Islanders.

"We worked hard. We were aggressive," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "I really liked the way we played."

Ric Jackman and Mark Recchi each tallied a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who outshot New York 44-29. Sidney Crosby returned after missing his first game of the season Thursday with the flu and scored his team-leading 26th goal.

Pittsburgh has lost five straight games and 15 of its last 16. The Penguins' NHL-worst penalty-killing unit has allowed three power-play goals in back-to-back games.

The Penguins have dropped three in a row and is just 2-8-1 in their last 11 meetings with Ottawa.

STANDINGS: Penguins - 35 points, 5th place, 37 PB, Atlantic Division. Senators - 75 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Crosby, 26 goals, 35 assists, 61 points and 78 PIM. Senators - Daniel Alfredsson, 34 goals and 73 points; Jason Spezza, 44 assists; Chris Neil, 133 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Penguins - Power play: 18.4 percent (63 for 342), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 77.8 percent (287 for 369), 30th. Senators - Power play: 20.8 percent (67 for 322), 3rd. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (278 for 327), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury (6-18-4, 3.25 GAA); Sebastien Caron (5-4-4, 4.29). Senators - Hasek (27-8-4, 5 SO, 2.02); Ray Emery (8-4-1, 1, 3.23).

SEASON SERIES: Senators, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Thursday; Senators, 7-2. At Pittsburgh, Alfredsson scored twice as Ottawa erased a two-goal deficit with seven unanswered tallies.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 5-17-5 on the road; Senators - 20-5-1 at home.

Associated Press

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