Senators-Penguins Preview

Sidney Crosby’s scoring outburst was key to the Pittsburgh

Penguins’ elimination of the Ottawa Senators last spring. Facing

the Senators for the first time since could mean another productive

game from the superstar center.

Crosby looks to build on his best performance of the young

season when the Penguins host Ottawa on Monday night.

Pittsburgh (3-3-0) knocked the Senators (1-3-1) out of the

opening round of last season’s playoffs behind Crosby’s

team-leading five goals and nine assists. The three-time All-Star

had multiple points in the first five games of the series before he

was held pointless in a 4-3 overtime win to clinch the series in

Game 6.

Crosby and the Penguins have won three of four overall after

dropping the first two games of the season at their new arena.

The captain is coming off a strong performance in Saturday’s 5-1

win at Philadelphia, tallying two power-play goals and one assist.

He had one goal and two assists in the previous five contests.

“The way he skated and played, he probably could have gotten a

couple more,” coach Dan Bylsma told the team’s official

website.

With Crosby heating up, Pittsburgh is hoping to continue to get

contributions from its power play. The unit is 5 for 25 over the

last four games, including 2 for 8 Saturday. The Penguins’

converted 17.2 percent of their chances on the man advantage to

rank eighth in the Eastern Conference last season.

“When we do get those chances, we have to make the most of

them,” said Crosby, who has two goals and 11 assists in 17

regular-season meetings with Ottawa.

Backup Brent Johnson has been a big part of Pittsburgh’s recent

success and might get a third consecutive start. He’s backstopped

the Penguins to all three victories, posting a 1.32 goals-against

average following a 29-save performance against the Flyers.

Marc-Andre Fleury has been in net for all three losses with a

3.41 GAA. He’s 2-4-1 with a 3.37 GAA in seven home starts against

Ottawa, while Johnson is 6-1-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a shutout in 10

overall games – seven starts.

Fleury made all four starts against the Senators in 2009-10, as

the clubs split the season series and two games in Pittsburgh.

Ottawa has started slowly and is coming off a 4-3 loss at

Montreal on Saturday. The Senators squandered a two-goal lead

midway through the second period and have yet to score more than

three goals in a game.

“It’s just the small things right now,” said defenseman Erik

Karlsson, who netted his first goal of the season Saturday. “I

think we battled hard and we played good, it’s just that we’ve got

to close the game off a little more there when we have a two-goal

lead and play a little bit smarter.

“Overall, I think we’re on the right track here.”

Karlsson had one goal and five assists in the playoffs against

the Penguins last season.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson is still searching for his first goal,

but his four assists are a team high. The right wing had two

assists against the Canadiens, and had two goals while setting up

six others in last season’s playoffs.