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Senators facing double threat

Crosby, Malkin offer 'great challenge' on Phillips' milestone night

Thursday, 11.19.2009 / 12:36 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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In his 800th career game with the Senators, defenceman Chris Phillips looks forward to the test that will be provided by the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Check out the NHL's game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Pittsburgh matchup.

Like he's done 799 times previously, Chris Phillips will accept tonight's latest big test at Scotiabank Place for exactly what it is.

"It's a great challenge," the veteran Ottawa Senators defenceman said with an eye toward tonight's matchup with the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m., TSN2, Team 1200). "Every night, there's someone you have to key on and these guys have a few of them. But it makes it a fun challenge."

The Stanley Cup champions are banged up on the blue line but any team with a lineup that features the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – two of the National Hockey League's most elite scorers – isn't one to be taken lightly. The two superstars will play on the same line tonight, which means double trouble for Phillips, current defence partner Filip Kuba and the three forwards who'll be on the ice with them.

"That’s twice as big a problem as (facing) just one of them," Phillips said after the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "They’re both highly-skilled, they look for each other and look for the other guys. If you give them time to make a play, most of the time they’re going to make it.

"For us, it’s about trying to limit the time they have with the puck and I think, more important than that, is to take the play to them and force them to play in their end."

That about sums up the strategy Senators head coach Cory Clouston would like to see his team employ tonight.

"We just can’t sit back," he said. "But we’ve got to make sure we’re smart with our aggressive play. There are times when there’s a line change or your linemate may have fallen down and you can’t be as aggressive. Then we have to be smart and clog up the middle of the ice."

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire, one of the biggest keys to the Senators' 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, knows it'll take more than just shutting down Crosby and Malkin to have success tonight. Neither managed a goal when the teams met Oct. 12 at Scotiabank Place, but the Penguins' third-liners provided all the offence in a 4-1 victory.

"It’s big. It’s a bit of a milestone for myself, anyways. A thousand is the next big milestone, I guess, but step by step. I’m pretty excited just to get to 800 so far ... especially in a place that’s treated me so well You’re definitely going to see that less and less, with the way the game is now and the (salary) cap." - Chris Phillips
"They didn’t win the Stanley Cup with just two players," said Leclaire (7-5-1), who makes his 15th start of the season tonight. "They’re a really balanced team and we’ve got to make sure we’re (paying attention to) all their four lines."

Tonight's game also marks the 800th of Phillips' NHL career – all of them in an Ottawa uniform. Only captain Daniel Alfredsson (950) and Wade Redden (838) have worn the Senators jersey more times.

"It’s big," said Phillips, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. "It’s a bit of a milestone for myself, anyways. A thousand is the next big milestone, I guess, but step by step. I’m pretty excited just to get to 800 so far ... especially in a place that’s treated me so well
 
"You’re definitely going to see that less and less, with the way the game is now and the (salary) cap. Free agency comes at a younger age now. It’s also pretty neat to see Alfie knocking on the door of 1,000 games, all with the same city."

Around the boards


Clouston will ice the same lineup out for the second straight game, meaning centre Peter Regin and forward Ryan Shannon are again the healthy scratches ... Clouston on Leclaire's importance to the Senators: "When he plays well, we win. Put it that way." ... Fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for tonight's game, the final scheduled appearance by the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins in Ottawa this season.







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ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 82 21 45 7 66
M. Stone 80 26 38 21 64
K. Turris 82 24 40 5 64
B. Ryan 78 18 36 5 54
M. Hoffman 79 27 21 16 48
M. Zibanejad 80 20 26 0 46
C. MacArthur 62 16 20 -6 36
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
D. Legwand 80 9 18 1 27
A. Chiasson 76 11 15 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02