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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (27-10-1) at Ottawa Senators (14-17-7), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to roll into the NHL's Christmas break by picking up an eighth straight win when they visit the struggling Ottawa Senators on Monday.

Pittsburgh won its seventh straight game in Saturday's home tilt against the Calgary Flames and that victory was also the 10th consecutive win on home ice for the Pens.

The Pens, who are 10-7-1 on the road this season compared to a stellar 17-3-0 mark in the Steel City, will play their next four games as the guest, beginning with tonight's tilt in Canada's capital city. Pittsburgh's next game is in Carolina on Friday, when the NHL emerges from its three-day holiday break.

Sidney Crosby's goal and two assists led the way for the Penguins in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Flames at CONSOL Energy Center. James Neal scored once and assisted on another for the Penguins, with Pascal Dupuis and Harry Zolnierczyk also lighting the lamp to support a 27-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.

Pittsburgh held on for its 12th win in 23 games after jumping out to a 4-1 lead late in the second period.

"We are just playing with a lot of energy," said Crosby. "Just keeping it simple and playing to our strengths, (we've) got a lot of speed in the lineup and (are) trying to take the load off our of defense a little bit."

Crosby has recorded a point in 10 straight games, posting seven goals and 11 helpers during that stretch. Pittsburgh's captain is leading the NHL with 54 points this season on 20 goals and 34 assists.

Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin has fallen into a tie for fourth place in the NHL's scoring race while missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. The Russian star is questionable for Monday's tilt.

The Senators enter Monday on a three-game slide after falling 4-3 in overtime Saturday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

Phoenix rallied for the OT victory against the Senators, overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to send the game to the extra session. Antoine Vermette, who tied the game at 3-3 late in the third period before winning it in overtime, recorded his second career hat trick to spark the Coyotes' comeback.

Marc Methot posted a goal and an assist for the Senators, while Kyle Turris and Zack Smith also scored in the loss. Craig Anderson was saddled with the loss despite making 34 stops.

"We're trying out there, we're trying to win and we're trying to do things right," said Sens captain Jason Spezza. "It just seems like right now we can't find a way to win and every mistake seems to end up in the back of our net."

The Senators fell to 7-10-4 on home ice after Saturday's setback. Ottawa is closing a three-game homestand tonight and will play its next game Friday night in Boston.

Monday's tilt is the first of three scheduled meetings between the Sens and Pens this season. Pittsburgh won all three encounters last season and has claimed seven of the past 11 tilts in this series. The Penguins also have won two straight in Ottawa, but the Sens have claimed four of the last seven matchups in Canada's capital.

12/23 10:56:55 ET

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CLE 6
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CLE 101
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