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Penguins preview: 12/23 at Senators

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It’s the final game before Christmas, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are riding a seven-game winning streak into Ottawa for a meeting with the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon against the Calgary Flames, and the Senators are looking to rebound from a 4-3 overtime loss to the Phoenix Coyotes that same night.

When and where: Canadian Tire Centre (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada); 7:30 pm/et (Root Sports, RDS, SNET-E)

Records: Penguins (27-10-1, 55 pts.); Senators (14-17-7, 35 pts.)

Season series: First meeting of the season

Last meeting: The Penguins and Senators last met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, but their last regular season meeting was on April 22nd in Ottawa. In quite a chippy contest, the Penguins completed a season sweep of the Sens leaving the Canadian capital with a 3-1 victory, and the two points. The victory was fueled by goals from Dustin Jeffrey, Jarome Iginla, and Tyler Kennedy. The two sides also combined for fifty-eight penalty minutes with Steve MacIntyre accounting for twelve.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Clarke MacArthur: When it comes to Penguin killers, Clarke MacArthur may be in, at least, the top three. During his career, MacArthur has scored more points (23) against the Penguins than any other team in the NHL. Those twenty-three points includes nine goals and fourteen assists in twenty-four games. While with the Maple Leafs, he went eight straight games with a goal against Pittsburgh.

2. Matt Niskanen: With all the injuries to the defensemen of the Penguins, Matt Niskanen has been a constant along the blue line. Niskanen has played in every game this season, and has scored a goal in each of the last two contests.

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), D Brooks Orpik (concussion), D Kris Letang (arm/elbow), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), LW Tanner Glass (broken hand), C Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle), C Evgeni Malkin (lower body), C Jayson Megna (lower body)

Senators: C Mika Zibanejad (upper body)

Additional notes:

-Tanner Glass may suit up for tonight’s game, but Dan Bylsma is keeping that a secret.

-Kris Letang had minor surgery on his elbow to treat an infection. He should be able to return after the Christmas break.

-Sidney Crosby was named the NHL Second Star of the week after registering eight points (2G,6A) in four games last week.

-Not only has Pittsburgh won seven straight games, but they have also won twelve of their last thirteen games.

Projected lines:

Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)

14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-9 Pascal Dupuis (A)

23 Chris Conner-36 Jussi Jokinen-18 James Neal

39 Harry Zolnierczyk-16 Brandon Sutter-46 Joe Vitale

27 Craig Adams-38 Zach Sill-12 Chuck Kobasew

2 Matt Niskanen-3 Olli Maatta

8 Brian Dumoulin-41 Robert Bortuzzo

55 Philip Samuelsson-47 Simon Despres

29 Marc-Andre Fleury (21-8-1, .923 save %, 2.04 GAA, 3 SO)

Senators (via Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally))

9 Milan Michalek-19 Jason Spezza (C)-93 Mika Zibanejad

16 Clarke MacArthur-7 Kyle Turris-6 Bobby Ryan

14 Colin Greening-15 Zack Smith-25 Chris Neil (A)

89 Cory Conacher-44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau-22 Erik Condra

2 Jared Cowen-65 Erik Karlsson

4 Chris Phillips (A)-5 Cody Ceci

3 Marc Methot-62 Eric Gryba

41 Craig Anderson (9-9-4, .897 save %, 3.42 GAA, 1 SO)

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