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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators storylines

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Lucky 7's: A #7 seed knocked off a #2 seed in each Stanley Cup playoff post-season from 1997 through 2006.  The streak was snapped last year when #2 Eastern seed New Jersey defeated Tampa Bay 4-2 and #2 Western seed Anaheim beat Minnesota 4-1.  The Eastern Conference #7 has knocked off the #2 a total of six times in the last 10 years, while the Western Conference #7 has beaten the #2 five times in the past 10 years.

Good to see you again:  Penguins' LW Gary Roberts will face the Ottawa Senators for the fifth time in his playoff career. He played a key role in three straight playoff series wins for Toronto against the Senators from 2001 through 2004. He was on the losing end last year with the Penguins in Ottawa's five-game opening round win after both teams enjoyed 105-point regular-seasons.  Roberts has 12 goals and 21 points in 23 career playoff games against Ottawa.

Why score first?
In their four meetings this season, the team that scored first went on to lose – Pittsburgh came back twice from two-goal deficits (2-0 and 5-3) to beat the Senators 6-5 in a shootout on Nov. 22/07, while the Senators, down 3-0, beat the Penguins 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 23/08. In the other two games, Ottawa didn't get on the score board first but won both games (4-1 on Dec. 13 and 5-4 on Mar. 1).

Good to see you again 2:
Penguins' GM Ray Shero was the assistant GM of the Senators from 1993-1998 – Daniel Alfredsson (133rd overall,1994), Chris Phillips (1st overall,1996), Chris Neil (161st overall, 1998) as well as current Penguin Marian Hossa (12th overall, 1997) were all Ottawa draft selections during that time.

High octane:
Last year, the Senators-Penguins match-up featured the League's second- and third-best offense.  This season, the Senators ranked second in the League with 261 goals, while the Penguins ranked seventh with 247.

Staal's Springtime in Ottawa:
For the third straight year, the Penguins' 19-year old sophomore C Jordan Staal will visit Ottawa for playoff action. He led his junior team, the Peterborough Petes, to a six-game series win in the OHL playoffs against the Ottawa 67's in 2006 and was with the Pens in their Conference Quarter-final loss last year.

NHL Playoff Appearance:
22nd (2nd consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 2 (1991, 1992)
Last Playoff Series Win: 2001 (Conference Semi-Final vs. Buffalo)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 20-20
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 110-103


Dec. 8/07 -- The Penguins completed a three-game sweep of their 'Crosby-Mania' swing through Western Canada with a 2-1 shootout victory at Vancouver. In the most exciting stretch of the Penguins' season, the club scored four goals in the third period to defeat Edmonton 4-2 and posted consecutive shootout victories at Calgary and Vancouver.

Dec. 20/07 -- G Ty Conklin made his first career start in a Penguins uniform, stopping 37 shots and both shootout attempts in a 5-4 victory at Boston. Conklin, recalled from the AHL Dec. 6 after an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury, went on post victories in each of his first nine starts.
Jan. 1/08 -- The Penguins struck just 21 seconds into the game and C Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning shootout goal in a 2-1 victory over Buffalo in the AMP Energy Winter Classic in front of more than 71,000 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Feb. 10/08 --
C Evgeni Malkin tallied his fifth consecutive multiple-point game with a goal and three assists in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia. Malkin upped his total to 21 points in 10 games without the injured Sidney Crosby in the lineup.

Feb. 26/08 -- Pittsburgh acquired RW Marian Hossa and RW Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta for RW Colby Armstrong, C Erik Christensen, C Angelo Esposito and Pittsburgh's 1st-round draft pick in 2008 at the trading deadline. The club also acquired D Hal Gill from Toronto for a 2nd-round draft pick in 2008 and 5th-round pick in 2009.

Mar. 4/08 --
C Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup in a 2-0 victory at Tampa Bay after missing 21 games with a high ankle injury suffered Jan. 18.

Mar. 25/08 -- The Penguins clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 victory at New Jersey.


Successful season: The Penguins captured their first division title since the 1997-98 season . . . they earned 100 points in consecutive seasons for the second time in franchise history, following 1992-93 and 1993-94 . . . they posted a +31 goal differential this season, second in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the NHL . . . they closed the season earning at least a point in 11 consecutive home games (9-0-2), in 16 of the final 17 home contests (13-1-3) and in 22 of the final 24 (19-2-3) . . . they sold out all 41 home games in 2007-08, drawing 700,137 fans for an average crowd of 17,076. It marks the first time the Penguins have sold out every home game in an entire season and sport a club-record 54-game sellout streak dating to 2006-07.

(Winter) classic turnaround:
The Penguins entered the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Buffalo with a 20-16-2 record and went 27-11-6 thereafter, posting the Eastern Conference's second-best points percentage after Dec. 31 (.682). Only the Eastern Conference Washington Capitals (28-12-3, .686) and the Western Conference's Anaheim Ducks (28-10-3, .720) and San Jose Sharks (27-11-5, .686) were better in 2008.

Ringing in the New Year: C Evgeni Malkin is the NHL's leading scorer since Jan. 1, tallying 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) in 44 games. He tallied 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 28 games while Sidney Crosby was out with an ankle injury.

The Crosby chronicles:
C Sidney Crosby was in contention for a second consecutive Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader until he was sidelined with an ankle injury Jan. 18 - he had 63 points (20-43--63) at the time of his injury, which was tied for the NHL lead. His 43 assists also ranked first in the League at that time. The injury sidelined him for 28 of 31 games from Jan. 19 to Mar. 25. Crosby still ranked second on the Penguins in scoring with 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists) in 53 games. His per-game scoring average of 1.36 was second in the League to Washington LW Alex Ovechkin (1.37).


NHL Playoff Appearance:
11th (11th consecutive)
Last Playoff Series Win: 2007 (Conference Final vs. Buffalo)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 8-10
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 49-50


Feb. 7/08 -- LW Dany Heatley had two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in his return from a shoulder injury in a 5-4 victory over Florida. The Senators had gone 3-8-0 in the 11 games Heatley was sidelined with a separated shoulder.

Feb. 9/08 -- LW Dany Heatley, C Jason Spezza and RW Daniel Alfredsson played together for the first time in 13 games and tallied 15 points in a 6-1 win over Montreal. Spezza tallied his first career hat trick and tied a franchise record with six points.

Feb. 11/08 --
Acquired D Mike Commodore and LW Cory Stillman from Carolina for D Joe Corvo and RW Patrick Eaves.

Feb. 26/08 -- Acquired RW Martin Lapointe from Chicago at the trading deadline.

Feb. 27/08 -- GM Bryan Murray relieved head coach John Paddock of his duties and took over behind the bench.

Mar. 25/08 --
The Senators scored five goals in the final 7:40 of the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit in a 6-3 victory at Buffalo.


Playoff Streak Extended:
The Senators have qualified for the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, tied with the New Jersey Devils for second longest active streak in the League behind the Detroit Red Wings, who will be competing in their 17th consecutive postseason.

Dynamic Trio: The Senators line of LW Dany Heatley, C Jason Spezza and RW Daniel Alfredsson has been the NHL's highest-scoring line for each of the past three regular seasons and finished 1-2-3 in League scoring during the club's run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Spezza's 92 points (34 goals, 58 assists) tied for 6th in the League scoring race, Alfredsson's 89 points (40 goals, 49 assists) was 9th and Heatley's 82 points (41 goals, 41 assists) was tied for 15th. Heatley also ranked third in the League in plus-minus (+33).

Get Shorty:
RW Daniel Alfredsson tallied his career-high seventh shorthanded goal of the season March 1 against Pittsburgh, setting a single-season franchise record. Ottawa led the NHL in shorthanded goals for the third consecutive season with 18, one more than the Chicago Blackhawks. The Senators posted League-leading shorthanded goal totals of 25 in 2005-06 and 17 in 2006-07 (tied with Montreal) and have scored 60 shorthanded goals in the past three seasons.

Record Start: Ottawa's 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 6 at Scotiabank Place improved their record to 13-1-0, setting an NHL record for wins and points after 14 games. The previous mark for most wins and points after 14 games were held by three teams, the 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres - all started the season at 12-1-1.

Senior Senator:
Senators coach Bryan Murray ranks second among all active NHL coaches in both victories (620) and games coached (1,239). He is fifth all-time in victories and sixth in games coached.

Potent Offense:
The Senators ranked second in the NHL with 261 goals scored, one fewer than League leader Montreal.

Familiar Teammates: Although they are paired on the ice infrequently, defensemen Wade Redden and Chris Phillips know each other well. They have been teammates since 1997-98, Phillips’ rookie year with the Senators and Redden’s sophomore campaign. Their 10 seasons as teammates is the NHL’s longest active streak among defensemen. Redden was the second overall pick in the 1995 Entry Draft, selected by the New York Islanders and later traded to Ottawa; Phillips was the first overall Entry Draft selection in 1996.

Block Party:
D Anton Volchenkov ranked second among NHL players in blocked shots with 209, trailing leader D Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens (227). Volchenkov led the NHL in blocks in the 2006-07 regular season (273) and in the postseason (80). While not a prolific scorer, Volchenkov is timely – two of his three career playoff goals have been game-winners (April 17, 2007 at Pittsburgh, 2-1 win; April 16, 2003 at NY Islanders, 3-1 win).


Author: NHL .com

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