MORNING SKATE BUZZ
SENATORS (24-21-10, 58 pts) @ PENGUINS (38-15-2, 78 pts)
PITTSBURGH — With less than 30 games left in the NHL season, points are so crucial right now and the Penguins have seen their share of so called desperate teams in the last 7-10 days and the results haven’t been good with losses to Dallas and Phoenix in the past nine days.
The Ottawa Senators fit the same criteria as the Stars and Coyotes in that they’re fighting for every point. Ottawa is two points out of a final playoff spot. While the Penguins lead the Eastern Conference by five points, the mood in the Penguins locker room this morning is the Penguins still need to build some momentum going into the Olympic Break and play just as desperate as the opposition.
The Penguins will be without Kris Letang for the third straight game who is sidelined with what the team is calling an illness. Head coach Dan Bylsma said Letang is under going further evaluation and tests at this time and the team is not certain on the extent (short or long-term) of the illness.
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal for the Penguins.
BY THE NUMBERS
*The Penguins have won 15 of 16 games at home and are 22-4-0 at home this season
*Marc Andre Fleury leads the NHL with 29 wins and is 19-3 at home. Fleury, though, is under .500 on the road this season at 10-11. Fleury in his career vs Ottawa is 9-9-1 with a 3.41 GAA and .895 save percentage.
*Sidney Crosby has gone four games without a goal. Crosby has just 6 goals in 25 career games vs the Senators.
*Jussi Jokinen has 7 goals and 14 points and a +11 rating in his last 13 games.
*James Neal has gone 8 games without a goal. The Penguins are 8-4 when Neal scores a goal
*Matt Niskanen’s 32 points place him 14th in the NHL in points among defensemen. Niskanen has 19 points in his last 20 games.
*Clarke MacArthur has 8 goals and 18 points in his past 14 games vs the Penguins. MacArthur is having an excellent season with 18 goals and 42 points. MacArthur in his career vs the Penguins is point per game player with 25 points in 25 games. The Penguins had interest in MacArthur as a free agent but broke talks off when it became clear a deal was likely with Rob Scuderi.
*Defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the Senators with 51 points and like MacArthur is a point per game player in his career vs the Penguins with 13 points in 13 career games.