The struggling Ottawa Senators will attempt to keep their slim playoff hopes alive on Monday night when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ottawa has lost five straight games heading into this crucial matchup with the Penguins, who currently hold the final Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. The Senators, who have 71 points on the season, have a golden opportunity to gain two points on the team they’re directly hunting for a playoff berth.
Pittsburgh isn’t playing great hockey right now either after dropping its third straight contest, a lopsided 6-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins are a -160 favourite on the moneyline in this matchup with the total set at 6.5 goals.
|Senators Moneyline Odds||+140|
|Penguins Moneyline Odds||-160|
|Over/Under||6.5 goals (over -130, under +110)|
|Time/Date||Monday, March 20, 7:00 p.m. ET|
This will be the third and final meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes. The Senators took the first matchup by a score of 5-4 in overtime in Ottawa on Jan. 18. Two nights later, the Penguins responded with a convincing 4-1 victory on home ice. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recorded four assists over the two contests. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk had a pair of big games against Pittsburgh, recording two goals and three assists during the back-to-back set.
About the Senators (33-31-4-1, 39-30 ATS, 33-36 o/u)
The Senators have fallen flat at the worst possible time, but there’s still a slight chance to turn things around. After dropping four straight games in regulation, they fell 5-4 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout to at least earn a point and stop the bleeding.
Ottawa will be looking to build off that momentum against Toronto and close some ground on the Penguins, and the other three teams (Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers) sandwiched between Pittsburgh and itself in the standings. Unfortunately for the Senators, the road won’t get any easier after Monday with games scheduled against Eastern Conference powerhouses like the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New Jersey Devils looming.
Off the ice, news about the impending sale of the team is expected over the next several days or weeks, which will certainly be a distraction for the players, fans, and the media after another disappointing season in Ottawa.
Player to watch: Tim Stutzle
The Senators certainly can’t blame Stutzle for the team’s recent struggles. In the midst of a breakout season, the German forward has tallied four goals and eight assists over the the last six games to lead the team with 78 points (35 goals, 43 assists).
About the Penguins (34-25-9-1, 28-41 ATS, 30-34 o/u)
The Penguins desperately need to get back on track after their slim lead for the final Eastern Conference playoff position dwindled down to a single point over the Panthers with 13 games to play.
Goaltending has been a serious issue for the Penguins lately, as starter Tristan Jarry was pulled Saturday for the third time in his last seven starts. With Jarry struggling, Casey DeSmith could be between the pipes in this one. He holds a respectable .907 save percentage through 34 games this season.
Monday will be the first of four games in six days for the Penguins. On Wednesday they’re in Denver to meet the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche, then the team will jet south to Texas to play the Stars on Thursday. After that, Pittsburgh returns home to play the Capitals on Saturday night.
Player to watch: Rickard Rakell
Rakell has three goals and two assists over the last five games and he’s had some success against the Senators this year. The winger has scored in each of the previous two contests with Ottawa, and both of them were power play markers.
Ottawa: Mads Sogaard (5-4-2, 3.49 GAA, .881 SV%) – unconfirmed.
Pittsburgh: Tristan Jarry (19-8-6, 3.03 GAA, .907 SV%) – confirmed.
Ottawa wingers Mathiew Joseph (lower body) and Parker Kelly (undisclosed) are questionable for the contest. Ottawa is also thin in goal with both Cam Talbot (lower body) and Anton Forsberg (knee) on the shelf.
A pair of Penguins defencemen – Jan Rutta (undisclosed) and Jeff Petry (upper body) – are also questionable.
- The Senators are 4-23 in the past 27 meetings in Pittsburgh.
- The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.
- The over is 10-2 in Ottawa’s last 12 games.
- The under is 4-1 in Pittsburgh’s last five games.
Wagers to consider
- With these two points being so critical for both teams, a small wager on the score being tied at the end the regulation (+350) might be savvy.
- Bet Boost – Same Game Parlay: Penguins moneyline, Jake Guentzel to record over 3.5 shots, Sidney Crosby to score a goal (+550). Guentzel is averaging five shots per game over his last three contests, and Crosby is always a consideration to score in games of such importance.
- Brady Tkachuk anytime goal: (+145). The Senators captain has scored at least one goal in three straight games and he’s also found the back of the net in both of the previous matchups with Pittsburgh this season.