The Senators (38-23-5) look to stay ahead of the Penguins (35-21-9) in the race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference when they go for their eighth straight win in the series Tuesday.
Ottawa lost to Chicago 4-3 in a shootout Sunday after entering the third period with a 3-1 lead. The loss came two days after the Senators gave up three unanswered goals in a 4-2 defeat to Atlanta.
The Senators, 8-0-1 before dropping the back-to-back games, haven’t lost three in a row since Dec. 6-10.
“We’ve been a great third-period team the last couple of months,” forward Dany Heatley said. “For us to do that two nights in a row is unacceptable. We’re going to have to get rid of this one quick.”
They’ll have a chance to get back on track against a Penguins team they have not lost to since Nov. 22, 2003.
Ottawa is two points ahead of Pittsburgh for fourth place in the East, but the series has been completely one-sided lately, with the Senators losing just once in the last 12 matchups.
Ottawa outshot the Penguins 44-17 in its 6-3 win Nov. 10, and has outscored them 39-20 in winning seven straight meetings.
Heatley scored two goals in the Nov. 10 victory, and he has four goals and two assists in five games against the Penguins since the start of last season.
Heatley and Jason Spezza extended their point streaks to 11 games when they assisted on Daniel Alfredsson’s power-play goal against the Blackhawks. Heatley has nine goals and nine assists during his streak, while Spezza has seven goals and 12 assists over his run. Spezza also has a goal and seven assists in his last five games against Pittsburgh.
Goaltender Martin Gerber made 22 saves in Sunday’s loss, but he’s won seven of his last nine games, with the two losses coming in shootouts.
Gerber is 2-0-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average against Pittsburgh. Teammate Ray Emery is 4-1-0 with a 2.97 GAA in his last six starts, and 3-0-0 with a 2.34 GAA in his career against the Penguins.
A key to Ottawa’s recent success against Pittsburgh has been shutting down Sidney Crosby. The NHL scoring leader has just two assists in four career matchups with the Senators, the only team in the league he has not scored against that he’s faced more than twice.
The 19-year-old superstar has just one point in his last four games, but scored the deciding goal in the shootout of Sunday’s 4-3 win over Philadelphia.
That victory was yet another high point for the vastly improved Penguins, which won all eight games against the Flyers to sweep the season series from their in-state rival for the first time in the franchise’s 40-year history.
Forward Gary Roberts, acquired by Pittsburgh last Tuesday, scored once and set up their other two goals in regulation to help the Penguins win for the second time in three games.
“Right now in the Eastern Conference, you can be (in third place) one week and eighth the next, so you’ve got to make sure you don’t let any game slip away,” Roberts said.
After Tuesday’s contest, Pittsburgh and Ottawa meet twice more this season.