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Penguins vs. Senators Game Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 1-3-0-2
Road: 2-0-0-4

WHEN: Oct 18, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Ottawa Senators
Home: 1-1-0-2

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators 
Mike Fisher
F  -  #12
  2 Goals
  0 Assist
  2 Points
• Is coming off his best NHL season after establishing career highs last year in goals (25), assists (28), points (53) and power-play goals (10).
• Was one of the Senators’ top forwards against the Penguins in the postseason, notching five points (2G-3A) in six games.
• Two-way performer excels in defensive shutdown assignments and on the penalty kill, where he has 14 career shorthanded tallies.
Daniel Alfredsson
F  -  #11
  0 Goals
  4 Assists
  4 Points
• Long-time Senators captain leads the team in both assists (4) and points (4, t-1).
• Registered his 10th straight 20-goal season last year and the 12th overall of his career.
• With 996 career points (375G-621A), he sits four shy of becoming the 75th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points.
Sergei Gonchar
D  -  #55
  0 Goals 
  1 Assist
  1 Point
• Spent the past five seasons with the Penguins, posting 259 points (54G-205A) in 322 regular-season games and 44 more points (7G-37A) in 60 postseason contests.
• Has finished with 50 or more points in eight of the past nine seasons, including each of his four full seasons in Pittsburgh (missed a majority of the ’08-09 season with a shoulder injury).
• Power-play specialist ranks 12th all-time among defensemen with 92 career power-play goals.
Pittsburgh and Ottawa square off for the first time since the Penguins eliminated the Senators from the 2010 postseason with a 4-2 series victory in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Penguins defeat of the Senators marked the third time in the past four years the two squads met in the postseason.

If the rivalry between the teams didn’t have enough spice, Ottawa made sure to add a touch during the offseason when they signed former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar to a three-year contract.

The early days of the 2010-11 regular season have not gone the way the Senators thought they would as Ottawa has stumbled to a 1-3-1 record following Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Montreal. While there are several reasons for Ottawa’s struggles, the lack of goal scoring has to be considered most troubling.

Ottawa has scored just 10 times as a team, the third-lowest (tied) figure in the Eastern Conference. Only forwards Milan Michalek (3) and Mike Fisher (2) have more than one goal. Gonchar, who was signed to help provide more offense from the blue line, has just one assist.

In goal, the Penguins will see Brian Elliott, whom they chased from the net halfway through the playoff series last spring, because No. 1 netminder Pascal Leclaire will miss a week or two with a groin injury. 
  • Nobody feasts upon Ottawa more so than Tyler Kennedy, who has scored seven goals in nine career games against the Senators. Of Kennedy’s three career two-goal performances, two have occurred against the Senators (Oct. 12, 2009; Oct. 4, 2008).
  • Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski recorded an assist against the Flyers on Saturday to improve his scoring streak to six games. Goligoski, who remains tied with Paul Martin and Sidney Crosby for the team scoring lead, can tie his personal-best steak, which he accomplished Oct. 14-30 of last season, with a point against the Senators.
  • Center Mark Letestu is making quite a name for himself in the early going. As of Sunday, Letestu leads all rookies in goals (3; tied with the NY Rangers Derek Stepan) and shots (18). Letestu’s five points (3G-2A) place him second overall behind Washington’s John Carlson.
  • Lost in the fast starts of Goligoski and Martin has been the two-way play of 23-year-old defenseman Kris Letang, who ranks fourth (tied) among all blueliners with four assists. Letang has also been strong in his own end, as evidenced by his plus-5 rating, which ranks second (tied) among NHL defensemen.
  • Last season the Penguins had great success against the Northeast Division, posting a gaudy 14-5-1 overall mark, including a 3-0-1 record against Boston, 3-1 marks against Buffalo, Montreal and Toronto and a 2-2 record versus Ottawa.


Power Play Stays Hot: The fact that the Penguins have now won three of their past four games probably comes as no surprise when you break down the numbers and see they have gone 5-for-25 (20 percent) on the power play during that stretch. Special teams decides many hockey games, so when the Penguins have their power play clicking, they become almost impossible to beat.

Rattle Elliott Early:
Pittsburgh torched Senators goaltender Brian Elliott during the teams’ playoff series in the spring, chasing him to the bench after just four games. Elliott stopped just 85 percent of the shots the Penguins threw his way while posting a 4.14 goals-against average. If the Penguins can pop a few pucks behind Elliott early, they might be able to have their first scoring outburst at CONSOL Energy Center. 
C Jordan Staal, foot (indefinitely)
F Arron Asham, upper body (2 weeks)
D Zbynek Michalek, upper body (2 to 4 weeks)
D Brooks Orpik, groin strain (day-to-day)

G Pascal Leclaire, groin (1-2 weeks)
D Filip Kuba, broken leg (out until November)
Goligoski/Letestu/Crosby (3) Michalek (3)
Martin (5) Alfredsson (4)
Martin/Goligoski/Crosby (6) Alfredsson/Spezza (3)
Letang (17) Ruutu (10)
Letang (+5) Lee (+2)
Goligoski/Crosby (2) Fisher (1)
Cooke (1)
Johnson (3-0-0) Elliott (1-1-0)
Johnson (1.32) Elliott (3.21)
Johnson (.953) Leclaire (.903)

Sidney Crosby - You knew Sidney Crosby was due for a breakout performance, and the always-friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia provided the perfect environment. Crosby notched his first multiple-point night of the season on Saturday with two goals and an assist against the Flyers. He has now picked up points in three straight games (3G-2A) to help tie himself for the team scoring lead with six points.
Milan Michalek - Ottawa’s chances of upsetting the Penguins last spring took a deep blow when Milan Michalek exited the lineup with a torn ACL. Pittsburgh will get a refresher course into just how talented Michalek, the younger brother of injured Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek, can be on Monday. Michalek is coming off a two-goal night on Saturday against Montreal and leads Ottawa with three goals.

 Aftermath: Penguins 5, Flyers 1 
 Crosby's Three-Point Night Fuels Penguins Victory   
Johnson Stars Again With 29-Save Performance
 Coach Le'Magnifique    

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Author: Jason Seidling

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