Penguins-Senators Preview

Thanks in large part to Sidney Crosby, a slew of injuries isn’t

slowing down the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Facing the Ottawa Senators may keep Crosby and the Penguins

feeling rather jolly.

Crosby looks to continue his offensive barrage and lead the

Penguins to an eighth straight win Monday night by capitalizing on

their first meeting with the Senators since ousting them from last

season’s playoffs.

Pittsburgh (27-10-1) is atop the Eastern Conference, while

Crosby leads the league with 54 points.

The superstar center has helped the Penguins pile up the points

lately, as they’ve gone 12-1-1 over their last 14 games while he’s

compiled eight goals and 16 assists.

Crosby has 18 points during a 10-game streak, his longest since

putting together a career-high 25-game run in 2010.

His tremendous production has been key to Pittsburgh overcoming

a litany of injuries. The Penguins are without forwards Evgeni

Malkin (leg), Tanner Glass (hand) and Jayson Megna (lower-body)

along with five of their top six defensemen.

It’s unclear when any of them will return, but Glass and

defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) are expected back at some point over

the next nine games, which include seven on the road.

Brooks Orpik passed a concussion test Friday, but still hasn’t

returned since being pushed to the ice and punched by Bruins

forward Shawn Thornton on Dec. 7.

Malkin could miss a fifth straight game, and he’s among the NHL

leaders with 41 points.

Crosby, however, continues to pick up the slack, and he did it

in a big way Saturday. He scored a goal and assisted on two others

to power a 4-3 win over Calgary, extending the Penguins’ winning

streak to seven games.

“Winning always makes things better,” Crosby said. “There’s no

secret there. It doesn’t matter what team you play on, winning

solves everything.

“We do our best to chip in and get through this. It’s not

common, you’re not used to being in this situation, but just having

the mindset of going out there to outwork the other team has done

us well.”

It seems as though Crosby and the Penguins should continue

rolling against the Senators (14-17-7), who have given up 41 goals

in going 3-6-2 in their last 11 home games.

The Penguins won all three 2012-13 regular-season meetings with

the Senators, and eliminated them in five games in the second round

of the playoffs. They outscored Ottawa 13-5 in winning the final

two contests, and Crosby had six points in the series.

He has 58 points in 44 career meetings, including the

playoffs.

Frustration is mounting for the Senators, who have lost four of

five games after blowing a two-goal, second period lead in

Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Phoenix. That came two days after

they gave up three unanswered goals in a 4-2 defeat to Florida.

“It’s frustrating and we have to start winning games,

eventually,” captain Jason Spezza said. “You just try to keep

working and figure out what we have to do better and work at it.

It’s not a matter of staying positive at this point it’s just

trying to work our way out of it at this point and get on some sort

of semblance of a roll.”

Getting Bobby Ryan going could help since he’s scored 11 of his

team-leading 16 goals in nine victories. The left wing, though, has

been limited to an assist over the past three games.

He has five points in five career meetings with Pittsburgh,

while Spezza has four goals and five assists over his last four in

the regular season.