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Thursday (Oct. 26) night’s game at home had all the makings of a potential disaster for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They had been struggling mightily, dropping three straight to the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and the Dallas Stars. They were making second period collapses a habit and were not getting any offense from the bottom six forwards. Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche entered the game 6-0, the team’s best start since 1985-86, when the franchise was still in Quebec.

What followed was a surprising 4-0 victory, where almost everything clicked. Reilly Smith scored the game’s first two goals, Lars Eller scored on a goal set up by Radim Zohorna, and Tristan Jarry was the wall they have needed him to be.

Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tonight (Oct. 28), the Ottawa Senators are in town. A week ago, the Senators looked like they had everything going their way. They entered their Saturday, Oct. 21’s game against the Red Wings having won their previous three contests and had a 4-1-0 record. They dropped that game to the Red Wings and then followed up by losing to the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders, three-straight losses to conference rivals that saw the Senators tumble to near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Related: What the Penguins Must Fix to Start Winning

With the Senators and Penguins entering the game with 3-4-0 records, both teams are searching for their footing and looking to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, even at this early stage of the season.

Setting the Stage: Lineups, Injuries & Stats

Since the Penguins called him up on Oct. 26, Vinnie Hinostroza has yet to see any action and will be a healthy scratch tonight. Likewise, Magnus Hellberg has yet to play since his promotion to cover for Alex Nedeljkovic, who was a recent addition to the injured reserve list. Zohorna, on the other hand, has injected some life into the third line.

Latest News & Highlights

As for the Senators, the biggest story has been the ongoing issues with Shane Pinto. Though the unsigned forward has yet to appear in any games this season, he has been suspended 41 games for violating the NHL’s gambling rules.

Injuries

Penguins: Mark Pysyk (lower body, injured reserve), Will Butcher (undisclosed, injured reserve), John Ludvig (concussion, Ludvig did not play in Thursday’s (Oct. 26) game, Alex Nedeljkovic (the Penguins placed Nedeljkovic on injured reserve)
Senators: Thomas Chabot (Chabot is expected to miss five weeks with a fractured hand), Erik Brannstrom (undisclosed, Brannstrom exited Thursday’s (Oct. 26) game against the New York Islanders), Artem Zub (head, Zub did not play in Thursday’s (Oct. 26) game)

Interesting Stats and Facts

Though he has cooled as of late, Evgeni Malkin continues to lead the Penguins in scoring with nine points in seven games. In 44 career games against the Senators, he has scored 25 goals and 54 points.
Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel are producing, though Guentzel has still scored just one goal. He leads the team with seven assists and is second with eight points, while Crosby has four goals and seven points. Career-wise, Crosby has 18 goals and 54 points in 46 games against the Senators, and Guentzel has 10 goals and 15 points in 13 games.

Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Vladimir Tarasenko has performed well so far in Ottawa, tying Tim Stützle for the team lead with eight points in seven games. However, Tarasenko has only three goals and nine points in 16 games against the Penguins, while Stützle has three goals and five points in six games. 
Jakob Chychrun and Jake Sanderson are both among the defensemen scoring leaders early on this season, each with seven points in as many games, but the two have struggled against the Penguins. They have combined for one assist in a total of 11 games. Sanderson has accounted for the one assist in three games against the Penguins.
Though it may be a surprise, Tristan Jarry now leads the NHL in shutouts with two, tied with Jonas Johansson of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jarry’s two shutouts account for both of his wins, as he enters tonight with a 2-3-0 record with a 2.24 goals-against average (GAA) and a .917 save percentage (SV%). Against the Senators, Jarry is 3-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA and a .933 SV%.
The Senators have struggled in their own end. Anton Forsberg has been the more successful of the two goaltenders, going 2-1-0 despite a 3.01 GAA and his .873 SV%. Joonas Korpisalo has gone 1-3-0 with a 3.50 GAA and .886 SV%. Both have struggled against the Penguins, with Korpisalo posting a 1-5-1 record and Forsberg surrendering two goals on seven shots in 17:14 of ice time.

Storylines

Maybe Thursday was a sign of things to come. Eller and Zohorna have been the only bottom-six forwards for the Penguins to break through, and they seem to be developing chemistry. The hope, of course, is that Zohorna can find a home with the big club for an extended period of time.

Radim Zohorna, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Like the Penguins, the Senators are trying to get into a groove to compete for the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Eastern Conference. They have shown plenty of fight, Brady Tkachuk in particular, with his NHL-leading 34 penalty minutes. And like many of the Penguins’ older core players, Claude Giroux seems to be avoiding the effects of age with six points in seven games. With 66 points in 64 games against the Penguins, he could be dangerous tonight, as well.

The Penguins need to stay focused and play Stützle and Tkachuk the way they did Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM EST.

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The post Penguins Gameday Preview: Ottawa Senators 10/28/23 appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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