The Ottawa Senators suffered through a disappointing 2015-16 campaign mostly due to their defensive struggles, but things have changed one season later. The Senators put their much-improved defensive mindset to the test against the defending Stanley Cup champions when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins
When: 7:00 PM ET, Monday, December 5, 2016
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|51||OTTAWA||0 (-110)||5.5 (-110)||190
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TSN5, RDS2 (Ottawa), ROOT (Pittsburgh)
PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Senators 2
Ottawa was 26th in the league in goals against (2.94) and 29th on the penalty kill last season en route to missing the playoffs, but it entered Sunday ranked ninth (2.36) and eighth, respectively, in those categories while sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division. “It comes down to team defense, and the guys are buying in,” Senators goaltender Mike Condon told reporters after posting a shutout against Florida on Saturday. The Penguins pose a difficult challenge after scoring 11 times in two consecutive victories, including Saturday’s 5-3 triumph over Detroit. Captain Sidney Crosby leads the way for the Penguins with 26 points – seven of which have been recorded in his last four contests.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (15-8-2): Craig Anderson, Ottawa’s No. 1 netminder, is expected to rejoin the team after missing the last two games to be with his wife Nicholle, who is undergoing cancer treatments. The veteran has posted a 12-5-1 record, 2.20 goals-against average and .930 save percentage while Condon, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on Nov. 2, has been just as solid at 3-1-1 with a 1.66 GAA and .944 save percentage when he has been called upon. Defenseman Erik Karlsson has recorded three points in the last three games to push his team-leading total to 20 – two better than Mike Hoffman.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (15-7-3): The defensive pairing of Ian Cole and Justin Schultz has given the offense a major boost over the last three games, as the blue-liners have combined for three goals and six assists. While Crosby has continued to pile up points, fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin is warming up with a goal and seven assists during a five-game point streak. Malkin is one point behind Crosby for the team lead and Phil Kessel notched a pair of goals in Saturday’s win to push his point total to 24, but the Penguins’ power play has struggled over the last seven games, going 1-for-23.