Penguins-Senators Preview

The Associated Press

After their offense keyed consecutive victories to open the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins' poor defense has led to back-to-back defeats.

The Penguins likely have to tighten things up Sunday night when they visit the Ottawa Senators, one of the highest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference through the first week.

Playing on the road for the fourth time in its first five games, Pittsburgh (2-2-0) looks to come out of its difficult season-opening stretch with a winning record.

The Penguins and Senators have picked up where they left off after ranking first and fourth, respectively, among the NHL's top goal-scoring clubs last season.

Pittsburgh has scored 13 through four games, including nine in road victories over Philadelphia and the New York Rangers to begin the year.

The Penguins, however, will try to improve defensively to avoid a third straight loss after allowing nine goals in their last two contests.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start at Ottawa, where he has a 3-4-0 record with a 4.28 goals-against average in seven career starts.

Fleury had 26 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Flyers before giving up five goals in a 5-2 loss to the visiting Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

He's shared time with Tomas Vokoun, who hasn't fared much better at Ottawa with a 4.29 GAA in his last four there.

"(Ottawa) is a skilled group," defenseman Kris Letang said. "We have to be aware and we have manage the puck better."

Pittsburgh will have to find a way to contain the high-scoring Senators (3-1-0), who have 15 goals and average the second-most shots per game (36.8) among all East teams.

Center Kyle Turris has four goals to lead the Senators, while defenseman Erik Karlsson has three and two assists.

Jason Spezza has scored in each of the last two games and was a big reason Ottawa won last season's series with Pittsburgh. He went pointless in the first meeting, won by the Penguins, but had four goals and four assists in the final three as the Senators won them all.

After three straight wins to open the season, the Senators open a three-game homestand with starting goalie Craig Anderson back between the pipes as they look to bounce back from their first loss.

Backup Ben Bishop, making his first start of the season, allowed five goals in a 6-4 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday.

"We're just like everyone else, we're trying to find some consistency in our game," coach Paul MacLean said.

Anderson, though, has shined with a 0.67 GAA in his three wins. He's 3-2-1 with a 2.67 GAA in seven career starts against the Penguins.

He'll have to deal with Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, who has started to heat up with three goals and an assist in his last two after scoring twice in a 4-2 loss at Winnipeg on Friday.

While Crosby has nine points in his last five matchups with Senators, Evgeni Malkin has 10 goals in his past 10 games against them.

The Penguins will try to get their power play hot again, having converted 1 of 6 chances in the last two games after going 4 for 8 in the first two.

That may be a difficult task against Ottawa, which has killed 15 of 18 short-handed situations.