National Hockey League
Penguins-Senators Preview
National Hockey League

Penguins-Senators Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 6:10 p.m. ET

The Pittsburgh Penguins won't play at home the remainder of the regular season, though they'll have no problems starting the playoffs there if they maintain their current form.

Playing its best hockey at the most opportune time, Pittsburgh opens a three-game trip seeking a season-high seventh consecutive victory in Tuesday night's matchup with the Ottawa Senators.

Even with Evgeni Malkin sidelined until May and Marc-Andre Fleury's status for the playoffs uncertain due to a recent concussion, Pittsburgh (46-25-8) looms as a highly dangerous opening-round draw for any team. It's won 12 of 13 since Malkin's absence and amassed 30 goals during the win streak, outscoring opponents 16-4 over the last three.

The Penguins continued their scoring binge in Sunday's home finale, building a three-goal lead midway through the second period en route to a 6-2 victory over surging Philadelphia.


Sidney Crosby recorded his 26th point in 19 games by scoring the opening goal, though the star center isn't the only Pittsburgh player on a roll. Patric Hornqvist has scored in three straight, Kris Letang has nine points over a six-game streak and Phil Kessel has five goals and six assists over his last six.

''Everybody is playing the right way and doing a good job of creating momentum no matter who's out there,'' Crosby said. ''If they don't score, they're putting the other team on their heels for the next line.''

Matt Murray is making Fleury's departure less of an issue with consecutive sharp outings. After earning his first NHL shutout with 24 saves in Saturday's 5-0 rout of the New York Islanders, the rookie had 28 against the Flyers.

''(Playing back-to-back days) was a challenge and something new for me, but I like playing games and I thought I played pretty well this weekend,'' said Murray, 7-2-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average in 10 NHL starts.

Pittsburgh, which owns a six-game road winning streak as well, carries a three-point edge on the New York Rangers for second in the Metropolitan Division.

Crosby has five goals in his last four meetings with Ottawa (36-34-9), which allows a league-high 32.7 shots per game and has the NHL's second-worst penalty kill at 75.1 percent. The Senators surrendered three goals in four short-handed situations in Saturday's 3-2 loss at Philadelphia, though they managed to end a 14-game power-play drought on Mike Hoffman's late goal.

"It's nice to break out of the one slump with the power-play goal, but obviously our penalty killing hasn't been great all year," goaltender Andrew Hammond said. "To give up three in one game, you're not going to win too many games doing that."

The Penguins went 2 for 5 on the power play and received a hat trick from Crosby in a 6-5 home victory over Ottawa on Feb. 2. They won the teams' previous meeting this season - also in Pittsburgh - 2-0 on Oct. 15 behind Fleury's 22 saves.

Craig Anderson figures to draw the start for Ottawa and aims to build off a 23-save effort in Thursday's 3-2 win at Minnesota. He had allowed 10 goals in losing his previous three starts.

Mark Stone, second among Senators players with 23 goals and 61 points, is expected to miss a third straight game with a chest injury.


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