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Penguins vs. Senators Game Preview

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Senators Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
40-22-8-88
Home: 22-12-2-46
Road: 18-10-6-42

WHEN: March 15, 2011 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: Scotiabank Place
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Ottawa Senators
Overall:
25-34-9-59
Home: 11-18-5-27
Road:
14-16-4-32

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators 
 
      
Erik Condra
RW  -  #38
  4 Goals
  2 Assists
  6 Points
• His four goals have come in a pair of two-goal outings, one on Feb. 26 in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia and one on March 8 in a 2-1 victory over New Jersey – with Condra getting the game winner in both matches.

• Has played in 13 games with Ottawa so far after being recalled by the Senators for the first time this season on Feb. 15.

• Is in his second season with the organization – who selected him in the seventh round (211th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft – after a four-year career at the University of Notre Dame.
 
Erik Karlsson
D  -  #65
  11 Goals
  27 Assists
  38 Points
• Scored twice in the last 8:48 of play in Ottawa’s 6-4 loss to Buffalo Sunday to give him 12 goals on the season, the most by a Senators defenseman since Zdeno Chara had 16 in 2005-06.

• Also put forth a two-goal effort on March 10 in a 2-1 win over Florida, with his 10 shots on goal in that game marking the second time in franchise history a Senators defenseman has recorded 10 or more in one game.

• The 20-year-old blueliner, in his second NHL season, was Ottawa’s first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft that took place at the Senators’ home rink, Scotiabank Place.
 
Craig Anderson
G  -  #41
  19 wins
  .911 svpt
  2.85 GAA
• The 29-year-old netminder, who was acquired from Colorado on Feb. 18 in exchange for goaltender Brian Elliott, is 6-3 so far with the Senators with a 1.81 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.

• Made 47 saves in his Senators debut, a 1-0 shootout win over Toronto on Feb. 19 – becoming just the fourth goaltender since the expansion era (1967-68) to record a shutout in his first game with a new team while facing a minimum of 40 shots.

• Led Colorado to the playoffs last year in his first season as a starter, posting a 2.62 goals-against average while facing an average of 39.8 shots per game.
When the Penguins last faced Ottawa on Dec. 26, the Senators held the Eastern Conference’s 10th spot and sat just six points out of the eighth and final playoff berth. But Ottawa didn’t get the new year off to a good start, as they went on a 1-13-4 skid from Dec. 29 to Feb. 9 and have since dropped to 15th place in the East. The Senators are no longer in postseason contention – battling the Edmonton Oilers to stay out of the league’s 30th and final spot – and have stripped their roster to begin the rebuilding process for next season.

General manager Bryan Murray was quite busy leading up to the trade deadline, trading away six players in order to stockpile picks in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. After dealing forwards Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, defenseman Chris Campoli, goaltender Brian Elliott and of course, Alex Kovalev, Murray received a first-round pick, two second-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a sixth- or seventh-round pick in June – as well as a second- or third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. 

With all of the turnover in their roster, the Senators look like an entirely different team than the one the Penguins have played thrice already this season. To top it off, they’ve been dealing with an influx of injuries to their remaining key players, especially Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek. Alfredsson, the longest-tenured captain in the National Hockey League, has been out since Feb. 9 with a back injury, while Michalek (brother of Zbynek), the team’s leading goal scorer, has been sidelined with a broken foot since Feb. 26.

But they’ve actually been surging as of late, with a 7-4 record in their last 11 games. They’ve been led by the play of newly-acquired goaltender Craig Anderson and veteran center Jason Spezza. While the team as a whole has been struggling to find the back of the net – their 2.26 goals-per game is the second-worst output in the league – Spezza has been absolutely red-hot for the Senators since rejoining the lineup on Feb. 5 after a shoulder injury sidelined him for 15 games. He has tallied 19 points (6G-13A) in the 17 contests since his return, including a four-point effort (2G-2A) on Sunday in a 6-4 loss to Buffalo.

Anderson was acquired from Colorado on Feb. 18 in exchange for Brian Elliott, and he’s been thriving in his new surroundings. Anderson, who had lost seven-straight games before getting pulled in the second period of what would be his last game as an Avalanche on Feb. 14, has earned a 6-3 record, a 1.81 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in his first nine games with Ottawa.
  • Tuesday is forward Alex Kovalev’s first game against the Senators since Pittsburgh re-acquired him from Ottawa on Feb. 24. Kovalev spent one-plus season with the Senators. He notched 32 goals and 76 points in 131 games.
  • This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams, with the Penguins winning the first two contests at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh earned a resounding 5-2 victory over Ottawa on Oct. 18 thanks to goals from five different players. The Penguins then defeated the Senators 2-1 on Nov. 26 before falling to Ottawa, 3-1, at Scotiabank Place.
  • Tyler Kennedy has scored seven goals and nine points in 12 career games against Ottawa, getting two of his four-career two-goal games against the Senators.
  • Kennedy had quite an afternoon in the Penguins’ 5-1 victory over Edmonton on March 13. He collected a single-game career-high three assists – the third time in his career he has notched three points in one contest and the first time since March 12, 2008 vs. Buffalo (1G-2A). Kennedy’s three helpers also allowed him to establish single-season highs in both assists (21) and points (36). His previous highs were 20 and 35 respectively (both achieved in 2008-09).
  • Chris Kunitz tallied twice against Edmonton on March 13 – his first two goals since returning – to hit the 20-goal mark for the third time in his career and the first time since 2007-08 with Anaheim (21 goals). Kunitz’s 17 goals and 31 points over his previous 40 games give him a .78 points per game. His.36 goals-per-game average on the season is the best mark of his career (previous: .31 in 2006-07).
  • Thanks to a 29-save effort in a 3-1 defeat of Buffalo March 8, Marc-Andre Fleury became the first Penguins goaltender to win 30 or more games in three consecutive seasons. He also extended his own franchise record by winning 30 games for the fourth time. He sits four victories shy of reaching 35 wins for the third straight season.

 

      
Get to the Front of the Net: The majority of Pittsburgh’s five goals on Sunday were scored as a result of the Penguins driving to the net hard. They didn’t try anything pretty – they just got to the blue paint and did whatever they needed to punch the puck over the goal line. Chris Kunitz, who has found a niche scoring those types of goals, led the way with a two-goal effort in just his second game back in the lineup and he will need to continue to lead the way on Tuesday.

Don’t Let Their Power Play Get Going:
The Senators have notched a power-play goal in four of their last five games, with Jason Spezza tallying two of those and Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar netting the others. It’s been a huge difference-maker for Ottawa, as they won two of those games by just one goal. The Penguins will need to do their best to stay out of the box, but if they do find themselves in the sin bin, they’ll need to keep the league’s top penalty kill clicking. Pittsburgh’s penalty killing unit has killed off 15 of 16 penalties (93.8 percent) over the previous six games, including four straight contests without allowing a goal.
F Arron Asham, concussion (IR)
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)

F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss the remainder of the season)


D Brooks Orpik, hand (4 weeks)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)
F Daniel Alfredsson, back (indefinitely)
D Matt Carkner, knee (April)
G Pascal Leclaire, hip/groin (indefinitely)
F Milan Michalek, broken foot (April)
F Peter Regin, shoulder (will miss the remainder of the season)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Michalek (16)
A
Letang (34) Karlsson (28)
PTS
Crosby (66) Karlsson (40)
PIM
Rupp (118) Neil (161)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Three tied with (+3)
PP
Crosby (10) Alfredsson (7)
SH
Cooke (3)
Michalek (3)
W/L
Fleury (31-17-5)
Anderson (6-3-0)
GAA
Johnson (2.17) Anderson (1.81)
SVP
Johnson (.919) Anderson (.946)

Zbynek Michalek - Michalek recorded his second goal in three games when he blasted a slapshot from the circle past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win on Sunday. Prior to netting his first tally of the season on March 8, a 3-1 win over Buffalo, Michalek hadn’t scored since Jan. 14, 2010, against New Jersey – a 91-game goalless drought for the 28-year-old defenseman. Not only has Michalek been getting on the scoresheet with his four points (2G-2A) in his last four games, but he’s continued to be a crucial component of the league’s top-ranked penalty kill that’s clicking at an 87.1-percent success rate.
 
Jason Spezza - Spezza has been absolutely on fire since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 15 contests from Dec. 29 to Feb. 2 and has been the catalyst behind the Senators’ recent 7-4 surge. After being held pointless in his first game back on Feb. 5, Spezza has recorded 19 points (6G-13A) in the 16 games since, including a four-point night (2G-2A) in Ottawa’s 6-4 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. In the contest before that – a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay – Spezza played a season-high 25:03 and scored the opening goal. The 27-year-old center now has 39 points (15G-24A) through 49 games. He tends to thrive against Pittsburgh, as he has recorded 12 goals and 33 points in 27 career games against the Penguins.
 
 
 
 

Crosby Media Q and A
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Penguins Report: 3/14/11 
Notebook: Depleted Defense Defiant 
Aftermath: Penguins 5, Oilers 1 
Children's Book Collection Brings Pages of Donations from Fans  
Penguins, CONSOL Energy Center Named Finalists For Prestigious 'Sports Business Awards' 

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WHEN: March 15, 2011 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: Scotiabank Place
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

When the Penguins last faced Ottawa on Dec. 26, the Senators held the Eastern Conference's 10th spot and sat just six points out of the eighth and final playoff berth. But Ottawa didn't get the new year off to a good start, as they went on a 1-13-4 skid from Dec. 29 to Feb. 9 and have since dropped to 15th place in the East. The Senators are no longer in postseason contention – battling the Edmonton Oilers to stay out of the league's 30th and final spot – and have stripped their roster to begin the rebuilding process for next season.

General manager Bryan Murray was quite busy leading up to the trade deadline, trading away six players in order to stockpile picks in this summer's NHL Entry Draft. After dealing forwards Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, defenseman Chris Campoli, goaltender Brian Elliott and of course, Alex Kovalev, Murray received a first-round pick, two second-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a sixth- or seventh-round pick in June – as well as a second- or third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

With all of the turnover in their roster, the Senators look like an entirely different team than the one the Penguins have played thrice already this season. To top it off, they've been dealing with an influx of injuries to their remaining key players, especially Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek. Alfredsson, the longest-tenured captain in the National Hockey League, has been out since Feb. 9 with a back injury, while Michalek (brother of Zbynek), the team's leading goal scorer, has been sidelined with a broken foot since Feb. 26.

But they've actually been surging as of late, with a 7-4 record in their last 11 games. They've been led by the play of newly-acquired goaltender Craig Anderson and veteran center Jason Spezza. While the team as a whole has been struggling to find the back of the net – their 2.26 goals-per game is the second-worst output in the league – Spezza has been absolutely red-hot for the Senators since rejoining the lineup on Feb. 5 after a shoulder injury sidelined him for 15 games. He has tallied 19 points (6G-13A) in the 17 contests since his return, including a four-point effort (2G-2A) on Sunday in a 6-4 loss to Buffalo.

Anderson was acquired from Colorado on Feb. 18 in exchange for Brian Elliott, and he's been thriving in his new surroundings. Anderson, who had lost seven-straight games before getting pulled in the second period of what would be his last game as an Avalanche on Feb. 14, has earned a 6-3 record, a 1.81 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in his first nine games with Ottawa.


INTERESTING STATS

* Tuesday is forward Alex Kovalev's first game against the Senators since Pittsburgh re-acquired him from Ottawa on Feb. 24. Kovalev spent one-plus season with the Senators. He notched 32 goals and 76 points in 131 games.

* This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams, with the Penguins winning the first two contests at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh earned a resounding 5-2 victory over Ottawa on Oct. 18 thanks to goals from five different players. The Penguins then defeated the Senators 2-1 on Nov. 26 before falling to Ottawa, 3-1, at Scotiabank Place.

* Tyler Kennedy has scored seven goals and nine points in 12 career games against Ottawa, getting two of his four-career two-goal games against the Senators.

* Kennedy had quite an afternoon in the Penguins' 5-1 victory over Edmonton on March 13. He collected a single-game career-high three assists – the third time in his career he has notched three points in one contest and the first time since March 12, 2008 vs. Buffalo (1G-2A). Kennedy's three helpers also allowed him to establish single-season highs in both assists (21) and points (36). His previous highs were 20 and 35 respectively (both achieved in 2008-09).

* Chris Kunitz tallied twice against Edmonton on March 13 – his first two goals since returning – to hit the 20-goal mark for the third time in his career and the first time since 2007-08 with Anaheim (21 goals). Kunitz's 17 goals and 31 points over his previous 40 games give him a .78 points per game. His.36 goals-per-game average on the season is the best mark of his career (previous: .31 in 2006-07).

* Thanks to a 29-save effort in a 3-1 defeat of Buffalo March 8, Marc-Andre Fleury became the first Penguins goaltender to win 30 or more games in three consecutive seasons. He also extended his own franchise record by winning 30 games for the fourth time. He sits four victories shy of reaching 35 wins for the third straight season.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Get to the Front of the Net: The majority of Pittsburgh's five goals on Sunday were scored as a result of the Penguins driving to the net hard. They didn't try anything pretty – they just got to the blue paint and did whatever they needed to punch the puck over the goal line. Chris Kunitz, who has found a niche scoring those types of goals, led the way with a two-goal effort in just his second game back in the lineup and he will need to continue to lead the way on Tuesday.

Don't Let Their Power Play Get Going: The Senators have notched a power-play goal in four of their last five games, with Jason Spezza tallying two of those and Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar netting the others. It's been a huge difference-maker for Ottawa, as they won two of those games by just one goal. The Penguins will need to do their best to stay out of the box, but if they do find themselves in the sin bin, they'll need to keep the league's top penalty kill clicking. Pittsburgh's penalty killing unit has killed off 15 of 16 penalties (93.8 percent) over the previous six games, including four straight contests without allowing a goal.


WHO'S HOT

Zbynek Michalek - Michalek recorded his second goal in three games when he blasted a slapshot from the circle past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk in Pittsburgh's 5-1 win on Sunday. Prior to netting his first tally of the season on March 8, a 3-1 win over Buffalo, Michalek hadn't scored since Jan. 14, 2010, against New Jersey – a 91-game goalless drought for the 28-year-old defenseman. Not only has Michalek been getting on the scoresheet with his four points (2G-2A) in his last four games, but he's continued to be a crucial component of the league's top-ranked penalty kill that's clicking at an 87.1-percent success rate.

Jason Spezza - Spezza has been absolutely on fire since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 15 contests from Dec. 29 to Feb. 2 and has been the catalyst behind the Senators' recent 7-4 surge. After being held pointless in his first game back on Feb. 5, Spezza has recorded 19 points (6G-13A) in the 16 games since, including a four-point night (2G-2A) in Ottawa's 6-4 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. In the contest before that – a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay – Spezza played a season-high 25:03 and scored the opening goal. The 27-year-old center now has 39 points (15G-24A) through 49 games. He tends to thrive against Pittsburgh, as he has recorded 12 goals and 33 points in 27 career games against the Penguins.


Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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