Who: Ottawa Senators (33-31-5, 71 points, 6th place Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (34-25-10, 78 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, SNE, SNO, SNW and RDS in Canada, ESPN+
Opponent Track: Ottawa is just 1-5-1 in their last seven games, watching any hope of running for a playoff spot quickly fade away. The defense and goaltending have dried up, the Senators have given up 5+ goals in all of the losses in this stretch, and conceded four in the game that they won. To Ottawa’s credit, they did out-shoot Toronto 52-29 on Saturday night, but fell in a shootout.
Pens Path Ahead: Today begins a stretch of four-games-in-six-days, continuing a hectic stretch of March for Pittsburgh. On Wednesday they’re in Denver to meet the defending Stanley Cup champions, then the Pens jet south to Texas to play the Stars on Thursday. After that, Pittsburgh returns home to play the Capitals on Saturday night, before finally receiving their first two-day break on March 26-27th since back on March 5-6th.
Season Series: Tonight is the third and final matchup. So far, it’s been mostly good for the Pens, who are 1-0-1 against Ottawa this season. The first game between the two was back on January 18th, the Sens protected home ice with a Brady Tkachuk OT goal to secure a 5-4 win. Just two days later on Jan. 20th, we had the second PIT/OTT game, where the Pens jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, winning 4-1.
Getting to know the Senators
SBN partner blog: Silver Seven Sens
Saturday’s Game Lines
Brady Tkachuk - Tim Stutzle - Drake Batherson
Ridley Greig - Claude Giroux - Alex DeBrincat
Derick Brassard - Shane Pinto - Julien Gauthier
Dylan Gambrell - Patrick Brown - Austin Watson
Thomas Chabot / Erik Brannstrom
Jake Sanderson / Artem Zub
Jakob Chychrun / Travis Hamonic
Goalies: Mats Sogaard or Dylan Ferguson
Scratches: Cam Talbot (injured)Mathieu Joseph, Parker Kelly, Mark Kastelic, Nick Holden
IR: Josh Norris, Anton Forsberg
—Goaltending is the big, big problem at the moment for the Senators. Their top two goalies (Talbot and Forsberg) are both on the shelf. Sogaard, 22, has been the main goalie since Talbot went down on March 4th, and with Talbot pretty much went all of Ottawa’s hopes at making a run this season. Here’s the goalie stats post-Talbot
—That’s impossible to overcome when the goalie is literally giving up 4-5 goals every game and stopping so few pucks.
—As you might suspect, despite being on the third pairing, Chychrun is still playing a ton (his 21:33 average ice time with the Sens is second on their squad behind noted minutes-eater Chabot).
—It’s been a star-making season for the 21 year-old Stutzle, who became the youngest Senator to ever post a 35-goal season. That should be a sign of things to come for him, leading a solid young core of players into the future.
—He’s not known for his offense, but the last month has been good for Travis Hamonic who has scored eight points (3G+5A) in the last 14 games. Not going to blow anyone away, but if you’re looking for hot players recently, he would be one.
—One player who is not as hot is Alex DeBrincat, who only has two goals in his last 14 games (though he does have six assists). DeBrincat is also a -13 in the last 14 games and getting caught on the ice for a ton of action against, which given the goaltending situation might be a function of bad luck or playing 20 minutes frequently in front of them. Overall in his first season in Ottawa, DeBrincat’s 21 goals has to be considered a disappointment considering he scored 41 last year (and 32 in 52 games in the shortened 2020-21 season).
And now for the Pens...
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander
Drew O’Connor - Mikael Granlund - Rickard Rakell
Ryan Poehling - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson? / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / Chad Ruhwedel
P.O. Joseph / Mark Friedman
Goalies: Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Danton Heinen, Jeff Petry (upper-body injury, severity unknown), Jan Rutta
IR: Dmitry Kulikov (out week-to-week, lower-body injury), Nick Bonino (out week-to-week, lacerated kidney)
—Marcus Pettersson was knocked out of last game with an injury, the team had an off day yesterday after flying back from New York late Saturday night, so we’ll see if there’s any update. In bad news, the Pens don’t have the cap space to bring anyone up from the AHL right now, so if all of Pettersson, Rutta and Petry can’t play tonight, things could be very dire with only five healthy defenders unless they get really creative (sending Nylander back to the AHL or putting another defending on LTIR).
—The goalie situation looks just as depressing after another step back by Jarry on Saturday. It’s never a good sign when he’s got the hook (4) is starting to get as close to the number of games he has been able to finish (6) since his return from injury last month.