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Pens, Sens ready to finish season series

by Deborah Francisco
PENGUINS (40-22-8) at SENATORS (25-35-9)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 4-3-3; Ottawa 6-4-0.

Season Series – This game will cap off a four-game series played between the Penguins and Senators this season. The Penguins won the first two contests, both played in Pittsburgh, with a 5-2 victory on Oct. 18 and a 2-1 win Nov. 26. Erik Karlsson tallied two goals to help Ottawa respond with a 3-1 victory on Dec. 26 at Scotiabank Place.

Big Story – Despite fighting off a plethora of injuries, the Penguins have managed to remain within first place of the Atlantic Division. In fact, the Penguins trail the Eastern Conference leading Flyers by just three points. With the prospect of Sidney Crosby soon returning from his concussion, things are looking bright in the Steel City. Ottawa, meanwhile, is enjoying the success it found on its recent road trip going 3-1 in that span.

Team Scope:

Penguins – The Penguins have won three of their past four contests to remain within striking distance of the Flyers. Although the Penguins dropped a painful 3-0 decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, they came back with a vengeance on Sunday, topping the Edmonton Oilers, 5-1 at the Consol Energy Center. Chris Kunitz tallied two goals in that game.

The Penguins killed of an important 5-on-3 advantage for the Oilers in the first period and Kunitz notched the first marker of the game less than a minute after the two-man advantage expired.

"The momentum was in our favor when the guys killed that off," Kunitz said. "It got the building going and got the guys playing a little better at the end of the period."

The Penguins were eager to forget about Saturday’s loss to the Canadiens, so a 5-1 drubbing of Edmonton was just what the doctor ordered.

"I've learned it's a long season and there's just going to be some tough ones and bad nights," said Fleury. "You have to be able to put them behind you as fast as possible, forget about it and just move onto the next game."

Senators – The Senators are coming off of a four-game road trip in which they went 3-1 but had a three-game win streak snapped on Sunday in a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jason Spezza tallied two goals in that contest.

"It was a really good road trip," said Senators coach Cory Clouston, whose team had won 2-1 in each of the previous three games. "(This) wasn't a bad game. We didn't get outworked. We didn't get out-chanced. We just weren't as good as we needed to be in front of our net. Four goals should get you the win."

The Sabres currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with 59 points on the season.

Who's HotJordan Staal has four points in as many games including a two-point performance on Sunday afternoon. … Jason Spezza just posted his second multi-point game of the season with his two-goal performance on Sunday.

Injury Report – The Penguins are still without Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (season-ending knee surgery). Forwards Arron Asham, Nick Johnson and Eric Tangradi are all out with concussions. Center Mike Comrie is on IR with a hip injury, while Brooks Orpik is still out with a broken hand. … Ottawa will be without Milan Michalek (foot), Peter Regin (shoulder), Daniel Alfredsson (back), Matt Carkner (knee) and Pascal Leclaire (lower body).

Stat Pack – Ottawa netted a power-play goal for a third straight game, the third time this season it has posted a streak of that length.

Puck Drop – Crosby skated in full gear for the first time since he was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms in early January. There is still no official time table for his return, but Crosby reports that he is feeling much better lately.

"I feel good. It's really early. It's just part of progress and trying to get better," Crosby told the Pens' web site. "I felt pretty good doing some light workouts. I was told I had the opportunity to skate. I went out there for 15 minutes to see how I felt. No real plan going forward. I felt good, so that's a good sign."
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