Senators-Penguins Preview

The Ottawa Senators notched a decisive win in their latest game by taking advantage of a struggling goaltender.

They’ll next face another winless club whose woes have surprisingly come on the other side of the ice despite a star-studded lineup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid opening with a fourth consecutive loss Thursday night against the visiting Senators.

Ottawa (3-1-0) scored five unanswered goals in a 7-3 victory over Columbus on Wednesday and got six pucks behind a beleaguered Sergei Bobrovsky, who has given up 18 goals in four games.

Erik Karlsson had a career-best four assists for the Senators while Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad each provided a goal and two assists.

"I don’t know if we played a really good 60 minutes, but we got away with a win and a lot of goals," Zibanejad said. "We’ve still got things to work on."

The Senators will try to match last season’s 4-1-0 start while keeping the Penguins (0-3-0) from igniting their stagnant offense.

Pittsburgh has been outscored 8-3 with superstar Sidney Crosby failing to register a point in his first three games for the first time. He had four goals and three assists in his first three contests in 2014-15, and nine points in his first four.

Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz also have zero points. Evgeni Malkin has just one assist while new forward Phil Kessel has a team-best two points.

Kessel scored his first goal for the Penguins in a 2-1 loss in Arizona on Saturday and assisted on Kris Letang’s tying goal in his home debut Tuesday against Montreal. Pittsburgh, though, was held off the scoreboard in the final 29 minutes in a 3-2 defeat.

"You have to find ways when you’re 0-3," Crosby said after the opener to a season-high five-game homestand. "If your desperation and urgency isn’t there, then there’s a problem."

Off to their worst start since beginning 0-4-5 in 2005-06, the Penguins haven’t opened with four consecutive regulation losses since 2001-02.

Pittsburgh is 10-2-2 in its last 14 versus Ottawa, including a five-game victory in the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Penguins went 2-0-1 in last season’s series and are 6-0-1 in their last seven home matchups, including the postseason.

Crosby had three goals and two assists in the three 2014-15 matchups, and Malkin scored three times. Kessel’s 25 goals and 50 points against Ottawa are his most versus any opponent, but the former Toronto forward has no goals and four assists in his last six meetings.

With Craig Anderson starting Wednesday, the Senators might give Andrew Hammond his first action this season. The "Hamburglar," who went 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average in 2014-15, was dealing with a groin injury.

Hammond was in net for Ottawa’s only victory in last season’s series, a 4-3 overtime win April 7. He gave up all three goals in the first 15 minutes before settling down.

Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury has won in each of his last five home starts against Ottawa while posting a 1.79 GAA.

Kyle Turris, among the league’s early leaders with four goals, has six scores and four assists in his last 10 games against Pittsburgh, including the postseason. Mark Stone has four goals in three career regular-season matchups.