Games are often labelled must-win over the course of the last few weeks, but the Ottawa Senators are getting very close to that territory tonight against Pittsburgh. A regulation loss tonight along with wins for Detroit tonight and Boston tomorrow would eliminate Ottawa from playoff contention. An overtime loss would put the Senators very close to the brink, though they would survive at least until Thursday. However a win, especially in regulation, would have the Senators inches from a playoff spot with two more games remaining.
The Senators will keep the same lineup, with Andrew Hammond start again. Here are the lines:
MacArthur - Turris - Stone
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan
Condra - Pageau - Lazar
Smith - Legwand - Chiasson
Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Ceci
Borowiecki - Gryba
Some notes for tonight:
- Tonight is the last home game of the regular season. Whether they make it or not, they have certainly made me stop being bitter about this team. The last time they played Pittsburgh, I was very angry they came from three goals down to grab a point.
- What more can you say about Mark Stone? Amazebollar.
- Erik Karlsson broke his own club record for goals by a defenceman with his 21st on Sunday.
- The Penguins will again be without Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff. Evgeni Malkin returned against Philadelphia on Sunday.
- Bobby Ryan really could use a goal tonight. Ottawa could use one from him too. Is tonight the night? Thankfully we will have Mike Hoffman with him from the start.
- Sidney Crosby leads the league with 81 points. Barring a crazy finish, it will be the first time in almost 40 years that the Art Ross winner gets less than 90 points in a full season.
- The other game to watch tonight is Detroit versus Carolina. The Hurricanes lost last night in Buffalo, so don't be hopeful but you never know. Also of note is that the Rangers can clinch first overall with a win over New Jersey. That would leave them with nothing to play for against Ottawa on Thursday.
- Hopefully if the Senators are to go down, they go down swinging. Don't be afraid to use Mike Hoffman in the third if leading, don't be conservative Dave.
Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net.
|Goals||Mike Hoffman||26||Evgeni Malkin||28|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson||44||Sidney Crosby||54|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||65||Sidney Crosby||81|
|Shots||Erik Karlsson||283||Sidney Crosby||227|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||27:13||Kris Letang||25:29|
|Score adjusted Corsi %||50.7%||18th||53.6%||3rd|
|Score adjusted Fenwick %||49.2%||20th||53.7%||3rd|