Game 70 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Which losing streak will end tonight?

The Ottawa Senators were looking for a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and did everything but. Normally when you allow under 30 shots on goal and hold the “Big 4” to a single goal while netting four of your own, that’s enough for a win. Instead, they settled for a shootout loss.

All things considered, a very encouraging performance in a month in which there haven’t been many. But there’s still a sense of disappointment. It goes back to those games against Vancouver and Chicago. The Senators could be 5-3-1 in their last nine instead of 3-5-1. That changes the narrative significantly. All they can do now is take the positives from Saturday into tonight’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the final of three games between the two.

While the Sens have lost five in a row, the Penguins haven’t taken advantage of late, currently on a three-game skid themselves, including a 6-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday, despite a 33-24 advantage in shots.

Getting pucks on the net is what both teams do best, and they’re evenly matched in a number of other categories as well, including shots against, and goals for and against. While Pittsburgh has the superior 5-on-5 playdriving numbers, the Sens have the edge in both special teams.

Mads Søgaard and Dylan Ferguson are the two netminders on the Sens’ roster, with no indication of who will start as of yet. Ferguson, 24, has a 5-0-1 record with the Belleville Senators along with a .935 save percentage. One thing to consider is that whichever one doesn’t play tonight, gets Boston tomorrow. Yikes!

Here are tonight’s projected lines, which are the same as last game:

Game Notes:

  • Everybody talks about how injuries shouldn’t be used as an excuse, but when the alternative is throwing the blame on younger players forced into a larger-than-expected role, I tend to lean toward the former. Søgaard shouldn’t be a starting goalie right now, but he’s the third-string and both the starter and backup are injured. Losing games because of below-average goaltending, such as on Saturday, is nothing new, but in Ottawa’s case, we just have to accept that as our reality for the time being.
  • On the back of that lamentation, let’s gush about Tim Stützle some more. The 21-year-old has 12 points in his last 6 games in spite of the team going 1-4-1 in that span and has already locked up a point-per-game campaign with 13 games left. And the icing on the cake (as well as most of the actual cake if we’re being honest) is that he’s signed for eight more seasons at an $8.35M cap hit. It appears to be the best second contract Pierre Dorion has ever negotiated.
  • I’ve really liked Julien Gauthier’s game so far. His goal against Toronto was incredibly lucky, but he’s stood out amongst the bottom-six forwards by putting himself in a position to be just that. His 5-on-5 expected goals share (per NaturalStatTrick) ranks above Derick Brassard, Mathieu Joseph, and the amalgamation of okay-to-bad fourth liners that have seen significant time in the lineup. And the team hasn’t been great overall in the games he’s played, meaning he’s definitely been a positive contributor.
  • Tonight’s game will begin at 7:00 PM EST and is available on Sportsnet East, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet West, and TSN 1200./


Player Stats

Game 70OttawaSenatorsPittsburghPenguins
GoalsTim Stutzle35Jake Guentzel30
AssistsTim Stutzle41Sidney Crosby54
PointsTim Stutzle78Sidney Crosby83
ShotsBrady Tkachuk285Jake Guentzel208
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:13Kris Letang24:23

Team Stats

Game 71OttawaSenatorsBostonBruins
Goals Against/GP3.2619th2.131st
Shots Against/GP31.922nd29.68th
Powerplay %24.07th22.412th
Penalty Kill %82.57th85.81st
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)50.4018th52.529th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)50.4617th54.534th

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