Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Monday, October 12th
Game 2: Thursday, November 19th
Game 3: Wednesday, December 23rd
Game 4: Thursday, January 28th

Senators 2

(18-15-4, 40 pts)

Penguins 8

(26-11-1, 53 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2009

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
OTT 1 0 12
PIT 1 5 28

M. Fleury (Penguins - G): Saves: 45, Save Pct.: .957

E. Malkin (Penguins - C): Goals: 3, Assists: 0

B. Guerin (Penguins - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 2

Senators-Penguins Preview


The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their five-game winning streak and their share of the Atlantic Division lead in the latest game at Mellon Arena against a team that's dominated them recently at home.

The Ottawa Senators can boast similar success of late in the NHL's oldest building.

The Penguins try to bounce back from a frustrating shutout loss Wednesday night and avoid a fourth consecutive home defeat against the Senators, who are looking to break out of their own offensive rut.

Pittsburgh (25-11-1) had won five straight and was tied with New Jersey for the NHL points lead when it hosted the rival Devils on Monday, but just like the teams' two previous meetings in the Steel City, New Jersey dominated.

The Devils had won each of those other visits 4-1, but didn't even let the Penguins score this time. Pittsburgh fired 35 shots on Martin Brodeur but none found the back of the net as Brodeur earned his NHL-record 104th career shutout in a 4-0 victory.

"We brought it out in the first and then, for whatever reason, had a tough second (period)," Sidney Crosby said. "We'll forget about it and make sure we get our game back to where it needs to be."

Crosby has been held without a point in two games against Ottawa (18-14-4) this season, but that didn't matter Oct. 12 at Scotiabank Place as Tyler Kennedy's two goals sparked a 4-1 Penguins victory.

When Pittsburgh returned on Nov. 19, though, its defense let it down. Jordan Staal scored early in the first period but Ottawa responded with the game's next six goals -- three in less than six minutes of the third earned Marc-Andre Fleury a spot on the bench -- en route to a 6-2 victory.

That was the last time Fleury, who's 4-6-1 with a 4.11 goals-against average in his career against the Senators, had been chased before exiting in the second period Monday.

Backup Brent Johnson, who stopped all 14 shots in relief of Fleury, is 6-1-1 in his career versus Ottawa.

This is the first of the Senators' two trips to Mellon Arena during the 39-year-old venue's final season. Ottawa has won three straight regular-season games in Pittsburgh, led by Jason Spezza's two goals and four assists.

Spezza, though, is out for six to eight weeks with a torn MCL, and even though the former All-Star has been struggling (five goals in 30 games), his absence is still critical for an Ottawa team that has averaged 2.2 goals since Nov. 25.

The Senators were blanked for the first time Monday, as Boston's Tim Thomas stopped 29 shots in a 2-0 victory.

Despite the loss, which dropped Ottawa into third place in the Northeast, there are reasons for optimism. Forward Chris Neil should return Wednesday from a knee injury that's sidelined him for a month, and goaltender Pascal Leclaire -- out since Nov. 22 with a fractured cheekbone -- is expected back in net.

"It's a big boost for us," captain Daniel Alfredsson told the Senators' official Web site. "(Leclaire) has had some unfortunate breaks, but it's good to have him back. He's probably really anxious to get back in there as well and it should give us a big boost."

Leclaire, who's started both games versus Pittsburgh this season, is 2-1-0 with a 2.33 GAA in his career against the Penguins.

Crosby has two goals in 15 regular-season games versus Ottawa.