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Senators-Penguins Preview @NHL

The Ottawa Senators aren't used to losing, especially to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Having squandered leads in three straight games, the Senators will try to end their longest losing streak in more than a decade and continue their recent dominance of the Penguins when they meet at Mellon Arena on Friday night.

Ottawa (5-8-1), which led the Eastern Conference last season with 113 points, has lost five straight for the first time since dropping seven in a row from Feb. 22-March 9, 1996. The Senators haven't won since beating provincial rival Toronto 7-2 on Oct. 26.

Ottawa, though, has had little trouble against the Penguins (7-4-2) lately, winning six straight since a 2-1 overtime loss in Pittsburgh on Nov. 22, 2003.

Goalie Martin Gerber continued to struggle as he fell to 2-6-1 following Ottawa's 5-4 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night in which the Senators blew 3-1 and 4-2 advantages.

Ottawa also led 2-0 in a 3-2 loss to Carolina on Saturday night and couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to Washington on Monday night.

"We have to find some way to break this cycle," Senators defenseman Joe Corvo said. "We have to keep working. I know that sounds stupid."

Gerber was supposed to get a night off against Atlanta, but backup goalie Ray Emery suffered a sprained wrist in practice Wednesday. Gerber has allowed 12 goals in his last three games.

Daniel Alfredsson's first-period goal ended Ottawa's power-play slump. The Senators finished 1-for-6 on the power play after going 0-for-16 in their previous three games.

Ottawa opened the scoring in the first period with Jason Spezza's sixth goal. He leads the team with 11 assists and 17 points.

Both Alfredsson and Spezza fared well last season against Pittsburgh. Alfredsson had four goals and three assists in four games while Spezza added four assists in three games.

Pittsburgh suffered its season-high third loss in a row, falling 4-3 in overtime to Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. Despite the slump, the Penguins - last in the East with 58 points in 2005-06 - have gained at least a point in seven of their last eight games.

All of Pittsburgh's offense in its latest loss came from Nils Ekman, who had a natural hat trick in a 4:10 span late in the second period to break the franchise record for quickest three goals by one player.

Lowell MacDonald scored three goals 4:17 apart in a 5-2 win against the Minnesota North Stars on Nov. 13, 1973.

"It is always a huge confidence builder for a forward to score goals," Ekman said. "That is part of what I want to do to contribute to making us win. I would have hoped we could have gotten two points out of it and (the three goals) would have felt more important to me."

Sidney Crosby, who had two assists, has a goal and four assists during a three-game points streak at home. Crosby leads Pittsburgh with 15 assists and 21 points.

Evgeni Malkin, the NHL rookie of the month for October, has failed to score a goal in three straight games after recording at least one in his first six NHL games.

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