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Game 39 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins 12/30/2019: lines, how to watch

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For one more time in 2019, it’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh!

NHL: FEB 01 Senators at Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: Ottawa Senators (16-18-5, 37 points, 7th place in the Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (21-11-4, 46 points, 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division)

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

via hockeydb:

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)

Forwards

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

Defense

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..

Infographic

Potential Lines (based on Saturday game)

Forwards:

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

Defense:

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.