When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh viewing area, NHL Network outside of Western PA, RDS in French, TSN5 for Canadian English feed
Opponent Track: This will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Sens. They played at home last night against New Jersey, losing 4-3 in overtime. That was their first game after Christmas break. Veteran Craig Anderson got the start. Overall, Ottawa has been pretty decent as of late considering their low preseason expectations, going 5-2-4 in their last 11 games and finding ways to avoid regulation losses and pick up point in the standings.
Pens path ahead: This is the final game for the Pens in calendar year 2019. They’ll play again on Thursday (January 2nd) at home against San Jose. Then next weekend there’s a back-to-back @Montreal (Sat Jan 4th) and back at home for Florida (Sun Jan 5th).
Season Series: This is the first PIT/OTT game of the 2019-20 season. Ottawa comes back to Pittsburgh on March 2nd. The Pens head north to Canada’s capital for their only trip of the season on Game No. 82 (the very last game) on Saturday April 4th.
Recent History: The Pens have done well against the Sens recently, as you might expect, with Pittsburgh boasting a 14-3-4 record against Ottawa since the last labor stoppage ended in 2013. The Pens have also won seven straight regular season games at home against the Sens.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Silver Seven Sens for the Ottawa perspective.
Tale of the Tape
—Whether it was their own good play or the weak Nashville goaltending + penalty kill, or a combo of both, the Pens have popped their power play number in recent days up to 15th all the way to what was 25th not too long ago. We’ll see how that number fares with no more games against the Preds left.
—Ottawa is pretty bad in all categories. Their goaltending is really keeping them from being a total disaster, I feel like it’s an unmentioned story but without the play of Craig Anderson the Sens over the past few years would be in a very, very, very bad spot, instead of just being in a very bad spot.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Duclair, at still only 24-years old, has had quite a career journey already. He’s on his fifth different NHL team and having his finest season since he burst onto the scene in 2015-16 with 44 points (20G+24A) before fading back a bit.
—With Anderson playing last night, it’s already been announced the youngster Marcus Hogberg will be in the net tonight. Hogberg has been pretty generous, allowing 4 goals in each of his last three starts.
Possible Lines (based on last night’s game)
Brady Tkachuk - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Connor Brown
Tyler Ennis - Chris Tierney - Anthony Duclair
Vladislav Namestnikov - Artem Anisimov - Colin White
J.C. Paul - Nicholas Beaudin - Scott Sabourin
Thomas Chabot / Cody Goloubef
Mark Borowiecki / Erik Brannstrom
Andreas Englund / Christian Jaros
Expected scratches: Ron Hainsey, Mikkel Boedker
Injured: Nikita Zaitsev (IR), Anders Nilsson (IR), Dylan DeMelo (IR)
NHLPA Player Assistance Program: Bobby Ryan
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Saturday game)
Jake Guentzel - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Dominik Kahun- Jared McCann - Alex Galchenyuk
Dominik Simon- Sam Lafferty -Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Expected scratches: Justin Schultz (lower body injury), Kevin Czuczman (healthy), Joseph Blandisi (healthy)
Injured Reserve: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery)
—Hornqvist’s return to the lineup last game for his first game in December gave another boost to a team that needed the reinforcements.
A long December (but...in a good way)
Per Pens PR:
Pittsburgh has been one of, if not, the hottest teams in the month of December. The Penguins have a league-leading nine wins in December, and have only dropped a league-low two games this month. Below is a look at just how dominant the Penguins have been this month:
Category Total Rank
Wins 9 1st
Losses 2 1st
Win Percentage .818 1st
Goals-Against Average 2.18 1st
Save Percentage .927 1st
Goal Differential +13 1st
That they’ve done all of this without Sidney Crosby (13-5-3 record since Crosby has been out) is very impressive. While the reasonable expectation was “just hold on until Sid can come back” in early November when he went down, the Pens have instead basically thrived and put themselves in excellent position for the second half of the season. The list of heroes is as long as your arm (Rust, Jarry, Guentzel, Malkin, Marino, Letang have all been excellent, among others) and is an encouraging sign as a group effort.