The Ottawa Senators are among the hottest teams in the NHL, allowing seven goals during their seven-game winning streak.
The last time they visited Pittsburgh, they gave up more than that in one game.
The Senators can match the longest win streak in franchise history Thursday night at Mellon Arena, where they’ll also be looking to avenge last month’s 8-2 loss.
Ottawa (29-21-4) had dropped five straight and appeared to have major defensive problems two weeks ago, but the Senators have found some solutions during a streak that has coincided with the return of several key players.
Center Jason Spezza(notes) missed 20 games due to a knee problem, but has scored in both of his games since returning. Left wing Milan Michalek(notes) and defenseman Filip Kuba(notes) have also come back from injuries during the streak, with Michalek scoring his 18th goal and Kuba adding two assists during a 3-0 win over New Jersey on Tuesday.
“Things are going well for us,” Spezza said. “Winning breeds confidence, and you can tell we’re playing with confidence. We’re playing a pretty tight, structured game, and we’re getting wins.”
An eight-game winning streak from Oct. 13-Nov. 6, 2007, is the longest in the Senators’ 17 seasons. Ottawa has won four times on the road during its current run after starting 6-13-1 away from home.
Ottawa’s surge into fifth place in the Eastern Conference has been largely to a stunning defensive turnaround. The Senators gave up 22 goals during their five-game skid, but held their last seven opponents to two or fewer goals and killed off 20 straight power plays during that stretch.
“Guys did a great job in front of me, just not allowing anything really,” Elliott said. “It showed that we can do that every night.”
They certainly did not do it last month against the Penguins, who got a hat trick from Evgeni Malkin(notes) and scored five goals in the second period of a game Ottawa’s Mike Fisher(notes) called “frustrating and embarrassing.”
It was the Senators’ first regulation loss in Pittsburgh since Oct. 16, 2001. They had gone 11-0-2 in their previous 13 trips.
The Penguins (33-20-1) are coming off a successful road trip that consisted of wins over Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh is pushing the Devils for the Atlantic Division lead.
The Penguins scored three times in the final 10:14 of a 4-2 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday to erase a third-period deficit. Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) made 28 saves after missing the previous four games due to a broken finger.
Malkin added a goal and an assist to give him five goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Sidney Crosby(notes), meanwhile, recorded three goals and seven assists in his last four games, with both players helping to spark Pittsburgh’s struggling power play.
The Penguins rank among the NHL’s worst on the power play at 16.4 percent, but went 7 for 19 (36.8) in their last four games.
“The puck is just going in,” Crosby said. “We had power plays a couple of weeks ago where the other team couldn’t get us out of their end and we would have five or six scoring chances. Now, it’s not taking much and it’s going in.”