Monday, 10.12.2009 / 7:30 PM
PENGUINS (4-1-0) at SENATORS (3-1-0)
— Ottawa won the head-to-head last year 3-0-1, splitting the opening Premiere series in Stockholm and taking the remaining two North American matchups.
— We've barely covered five per cent of the season but the Penguins and Senators have already risen to first place in their respective divisions, each holding a one-point lead.
— The Pens responded to their one hiccup so far — a 3-0 loss to the Coyotes last Wednesday — with back-to-back victories, out-grinding the Flyers 5-4 and turning the Maple Leafs' physical style against them, scoring three times on the power play, two by Sidney Crosby, in a 5-2 road win.
"Right from the start our power play was executing and set the tone for our team," coach Dan Bylsma said. "When you win the special teams (battle), that’s a good recipe (for success)."
More importantly, the Pens showed they weren't easily fazed by teams trying to outmuscle them.
"It's going to be like that against a lot of teams this year," defenseman Alex Goligoski told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
. "They're going to want to set a tone with physical games against us.
"We've handled it pretty well so far."
— Rust is the bane of any goaltender, and Brian Elliott
certainly could have had some in his first start of the season, but he turned in a solid performance against the sharp-shooting Atlanta Thrashers, turning back 26-of-28 shots in a 4-2 win.
"The first period, I felt a little rusty right off the bat, but I made a couple of saves and felt better after that," Elliott told the Ottawa Citizen
. "The guys played great in front of me and shut down their top guys and that was overall a good game."
, meanwhile, had a productive night with linemates Alex Kovalev
and Daniel Alfredsson
, assisting on a Kovalev goal and knocking in one of his own on the power play. Coach Cory Clouston had switched up the top two lines in an effort to get more production out of them and not rely too much on the solid third and fourth lines.
— Fisher also scored the overtime goal that netted the Senators a win over the Islanders in their home-opener last Thursday. Evgeni Malkin set up both of Crosby's power-play tallies Saturday and leads the team with five assists and seven points.
— Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba
(upper body), centre Peter Regin
(upper body) and forward Jesse Winchester
(right knee) are out tonight.
— The win in Toronto marked the second time in three seasons the Penguins have started 3-0 on the road. The only other time the Pens started 3-0 or better away was 1994-95, when they started 4-0-1. Fisher's power-play goal 3:44 into the second period of the Atlanta game ended an 0-for-8 drought to start the season.
Gameday Update —
Centre Ryan Shannon
returns to the lineup tonight. Pascal Leclaire
(2-1-0) makes his fourth start of the season in goal. Lines during the pre-game skate: Alex Kovalev-Mike Fisher-Daniel Alfredsson; Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Jonathan Cheechoo; Nick Foligno-Shannon-Chris Neil: Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Shean Donovan.
— “To get a goal when we did, I think, was very important," Clouston said about Fisher's game-winning power play goal against the Thrashers. "Sometimes it’s not how many, but when you score them."
— Matthew Mankiewich, NHL.com