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Senators at Penguins - 02-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-The Penguins will face Senators defenseman Marc Methot for the first time since he delivered a hip check to Sidney Crosby which ended up causing a season-ending injury for Pascal Dupuis. As is usually the case anytime teams meet for the first time since an incident like that, the media - including the custodian of this blog - wants to talk to the players involved.

-Methot was not immediately available for the media after his team's morning skate today. Many times, a player will get into the dressing room before the media is granted access and duck into the change room to avoid asking questions. Methot was out of the dressing room before we were able to get access.  After a request was made through a public relations employee, Methot returned to the dressing room and fielded several questions about the hit. He was very up front about it. He wasn't combative and he was accommodating.

Many players, including the Penguins, aren't accommodating after ideal circumstances. This was hardly a pleasant subject but Methot was fully cooperative.

-We're not sure what to make out of the Penguins' potential lines and defensive pairings tonight. They didn't hold normal line rushes at today's morning skate. We would assume there has to be some changes in store after such a flat effort Saturday in Phoenix.

-One thing which won't change is Kris Letang's status. He's still sidelined with an illness. Dan Bylsma was uncertain to the severity of this ailment.

-What a rough season Letang has had. A "lower body" injury, an elbow infection and now this.

-The Penguins' bottom six forwards, particularly the third line, has been critiqued over and over this season. It has struggled to find any sort of identity. On the flip side, the Senators have a third line to behold. Chris Neil is one of the better third line wingers in the NHL. He's mean, nasty, tough and he offers a fair amount of skill. Zach Smith is a solid defensive center who is probably a better fit as a fourth liner but he can win faceoffs and he doesn't back down from anyone. Colin Greening is the really intriguing player on this line. He's intelligent, quick and has a fair amount of size (6-foot-2, 217 pounds). And as we saw during the playoffs last season, he has a fair amount of scoring touch. A player like Greening or Neal would go a long way towards making the Penguins a complete team.

-We can't say we've watched the Senators in all that much detail this season, but just glancing at their roster, they should be better than 24-21-10. While they don't have that one player to lean on to the degree of a Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, they have a lot of depth from top to bottom. In net, Craig Anderson isn't a Vezina Trophy candidate by any means but he's better than quite a few goaltenders in the NHL.

-Some pregame shots. The barn:

-The ice:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-Petr Nedved:

-Alexei Ponikarovsky:

-We always seem to run into a Craig Adams fan:

-Jarome Iginla:

-Ulf Samuelsson:

-Andy Bathgate:

-Fans entering the barn:

-In the lower concourse, there is a display set up with memorabilia from past Olympic games. A silver medal from the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City:

-A torch from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London:

-A torch from the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles:

-Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik Team USA. The couple that recognizes American Stick-On-Puck together, stays together:

-Rob Scuderi Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins:

-Just your typical Grant Jennings/Grant Jennings duo:

-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Senators forward and 1992 Team USA member Shawn McEachern:

-Warm-ups:

-The Penguins' starters are Tanner Glass, Taylor Pyatt, Brandon Sutter, Robert Bortuzzo, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Andrew Ebbett, Kris Letang and Jayson Megna.

-During warm-ups, their lines were:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chuck Kobasew - Brandon Sutter - Tanner Glass
Deryk Engelland - Craig Adams - Taylor Pyatt

-The Senators' starters are Colin Greening, Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Eric Gryba, Marc Methot and Craig Anderson.

-Their scratches are Joe Corvo, Matt Kassian and Chris Phillips.

-Jeff Jimerson kills it with both anthems:

FIRST PERIOD

19:37: A wrister by Sutter from the left wing is deflected in on net. Anderson gloves it. A scrum develops near the Senators' net with Glass and Neil in the middle of it. As that progresses, Taylor Pyatt limps off to the dressing room with assistance. A replay showed him trying to a Senators player on the wall and collapsing. We're not quite sure how he may have been shaken up.

19:05: Crosby tries to chip and chase a puck around Erik Karlsson at the Ottawa blue line and takes a tumble. It was more Crosby trying to dodge a hit than Karlsson actually hitting him.

17:44: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Cowen chucks a puck from the left point. Fleury eats it up.

17:25: Karlsson lifts a wrister from the right point. It gets blocked wide by Sutter.

16:49: Engelland chips and chases a puck to the Senators' right wing corner and is blasted to the ice by Cowen for his troubles.

15:34: Gibbons create something with hustle. He outraces Cowen for a puck at the right point of the Penguins' zone and jabs it up ice with a backhand. That springs Kunitz off on a rush up the right wing. Kunitz attacks the net and tries to jam in a backhander which Anderson smothers.

14:43: Cory Conacher whips a quick and tricky wrister from the left wing at the cage wide to the far side.

14:03: Brandon Sutter creates a chance with speed. Taking a pass in the neutral zone, he veers up the left wing, gets a step on Cowen and lifts a wrister on net. Anderson gloves it. The Penguins have created two nice scoring chances by going at Cowen who isn't exactly a Bonnie Blair.

13:09: A wrister by Cowen is blocked by Conacher in the slot.

12:28: Big save. Spezzua pushes the puck up the right wing and taps a feed to Zibanejad driving to the net. Zibanejad re-directs the puck on net. Fleury stretches to his right and ends up stopping the shot with his mask.

12:13: Off a drop pass form Malkin, Paul Martin whips a wrister on net from above the right circle. Anderson says no.

9:59: Patrick Weircioch chucks a wrister on net from the left half wall. Fleury eats it up.

9:54: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Gryba whacks a slapper from center point. Fleury deflects it away.

9:39: Crosby is taking a shift with Glass and Adams for a shift.

8:15: Malkin lines up for a faceoff with Crosby and Kunitz.

7:11: Sutter musces his way up the right wing and lifts a wrister on net. Anderson fights it off.

6:53: Cody Ceci races up the right wing and tries to get a step on Robert Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo leans down and knocks the puck away with a stick-on-puck.

5:55: The Senators get on the scoreboard first. Stephane Da Costa wheels with the puck in the lef twing corner, spins away from Olli Maatta in the left circle and attacks the net. He lifts a wrister on the short side over the right shoulder of Fleury and scores. That kind of came out of no where. Maatta was schooled a bit on that played but Fleury needed to make that save. Conacher and Condra get assists. Senators 1-0.

5:27: Malkin races for a puck behind the Ottawa net and is hit from behind in the back by Smith. Malkin's head bumps into the boards and play is halted. Malkin is a little sluggish to recover to his skates but seems fine. Smith is given a boarding minor. Neil skates over to Malkin to give him some grief. They bump into each other. Malkin stares at Neil but offers little reaction. Maybe he learned to keep his emotions in check after his meltdown Saturday. Either that ord he knew better than to mess with Neil. The Penguins get a power play. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Matt Niskanenn.

5:17: Niskanen whacks a slapper form the right point. Anderson makes the save. the rebound kicks to Malkin the right circle. Malkin leans down and whacks it on net. Anderson steers it a way.

3:37: The J.V. power play strikes. Sutter pushes the puck up the right wing and leave a drop pass on the left half wall. Jokinen re-directs it to Maatta at he left point. Maatta winds up and cranks a slapper at the cage. Gibbons in the slot and re-directs the puck down to the ice. It bounces off the ice and sisd in on net through Anderson's five hole. Sutter had a bit of a screen on that play. Gibbons gets credit for the goal. Maatta and Jokinen get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1, Senators 1.

3:09: Skating with Glass and Kobasew, Crosby lifts a wrister from the slot. Anderson punches it down. Kobasew is all over the rebound but slaps it wide of the cage.

2:06: Play is halted as Bortuzzo and Smith drop the gloves in the Penguins' left faceoff circle. It's a sloppy, wild, frantic tilts with a lot of punches failing to connect. It ends after a few moments with Smith falling on top of Bortuzzo.

1:28: Taking a pass at the right point, Gryba whacks a slapper on net. Fleury fights it off.

1:17: More penalties. Neal and Gryba mix it up near the Penguins bench. Gryba is called for high sticking. Neal for slashing. We'll have four-on-four for two minutes.

0:09: Kunitz gets a little space int he right circle and flings a backhander on net. Anderson steers it away.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Senators 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-No update on Pyatt.

-That game had a fairly brisk, physical pace to it. Each team took a few chances up the wings. And there was plenty of hitting.

-Brandon Sutter is having a strong game. He's using his speed to create chances and has put some decent shots on net. His speed gained the zone on the Penguins' power play goal.

-Speaking of speed, Cowen doesn't have any of it. He's been toasted a few times by the Penguins.

-Anderson was the sharper of the two goaltenders that period.

-We're not sure how much Pyatt's absence is impacting things, but the Penguins' lines were all over the place in that period.

-The Penguins have a 13-8 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins have a 20-18 lead in attempted shots.

-Kunitz leads the game with three shots.

-Gryba leads the Senators with two shots.

-Karlsson leads the game with 9:01 of ice time.

-Malkin leads the Penguins with 8:41.

-The Penguins have a 15-12 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).

-Malkin is 5 for 7 (71 percent).

-Turris is 3 for 6 (50 percent).

-Methot leads the game with two blocked shots.

SECOND PERIOD

20:00: Play will begin with 43 seconds of four-on-four play.

19:27: Woah! Turris snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Fleury makes the save but biffs on the glove save. The puck hops behind him and is about to cross the goal line. Maatta is Johnny-on-the-Spot and backhands the reboudn out of danger. What a play by Maatta. Fleury owes him a beer.

19:11: As play returns to five-on-five play, Gryba gets sprung loose a breakaway. He move sin on net down the slot and lifts a wrister which Fleury swats away with his glove hand.

17:22: Sutter near take the lead. Ceci tries to snap off a wrister from the Penguins' right point but has it blocked by Sutter. The rebound kicks out to the neutral zone where Sutter chases it down. he attacks the net down the slot while fending off

17:01: Crosby races up the right wing gains the offensive zone and veers to the slot. He lifts a wrister which Anderson gloves.

15:57: Off a feed from Malkin, Adams lifts a wrister from the right circle which hits off Anderson's mask and kicks out.

15:12: Penguin killer Clarke MacArthur takes a puck in the high slot and whips a wrister wide to the far side.

14:53: Da Costa lifts a heavy wrister from the slot. Fleury fights it off.

14:16: Kunitz hustles up the right wing and lifts a wrister from in tight. Anderson snags it. Adams is on the bench receiving some attention from athletic trainer Chris Stewart.

13:20: Off a cross-ice feed by Crosby, Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left circle wide to the far side.

13:00: The Penguins will get another power play as Neil is called for high sticking in the neutral zone off a faceoff. Neal, Crosby, Niskanen, Kunitz and take the ice.

12:54: Off a feed by Malkin, Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left point on net. Anderson kicks it out.

12:10: Off a give-and-go with Malkin, Neal whips a wrister over the cage.

11:58: Malkin lifts a wrister from the right half wall which Anderson punches away.

11:38: Crosby taps a backhanded feed from the left wing corner to Neal in the slot. Neal swipes a one-timer over the cage.

11:20: Off a feed by Crosby, Niskanen fires a wild one-timer from the left circle over the cage.

11:13: Short-handed, Turris pushes the puck up ice and lift a wrister from the slot

11:01: Jokinen veers in off the left wing and lifts a backhander which Anderson bodies away.

10:50: As the Neil minor expires, Martin walks in off the right wing and lifts a wrister on net. Anderson fights it off as Sutter and Martin fight for the rebound.

10:00: Pyatt will not return due to a "lower-body" ailment.

9:21: Off a feed by Adams, Glass lifts a wrister from above the right circle. Anderson fights off the rebound which trickles wide.

8:20: Maatta tees up a slapper from the right point wide of the cage. The rebound kicks out to Niskanen at the right half wall and he fires it wide to the far side.

7:41: On a partial two-on-one, Crosby backhands a pass from the right circle to Knitz in the left circle. Gryba reads it all the way and pokes it away.

5:24: Wiercioch flings a wrister from the right point. It deflects wide.

4:04: Off a feed by Greening, Gryba booms a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.

2:52: Conacher whacks a slapper from the right wing. Fleury fights it off then smothers the rebound as Michalek crashes in.

2:38: Attendance is announced as 18,597. It is the team's 313th consecutive sellout.

2:13: Niskanen rattles MacArthur with a solid hit in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone.

1:42: Malkin lifts a wrister from the right circle. Anderson knocks it dead and covers the rebound.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Senators 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-That was a pretty dominant period for the Penguins. They controlled the puck in the offensive zone quite a bit and peppered the Ottawa net with a ton of shots. They just couldn't figure out Anderson.

-Anderson has been lights out this game thus far.

-Sutter continues to be a spark plug. He's really taking advantage of his speed tonight.

-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 29-16.

-The Penguins have a 44-36 lead in attempted shots.

-Martin, Sutter and Kunitz each lead the game with four shots.

-Cowen leads the game with 17:04 of ice time.

-Crosby leads the Penguins with 16:22 of ice time.

-Faceoffs are tied, 20-20 (50 percent).

-Sutter is 6 for 12 (50 percent).

-Spezza is 7 for 13 (54 percent).

-Methot leads the game with three blocked shots.

-Maatta, Sutter and Adams each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.

-Here's a great stat:

THIRD PERIOD

19:40: Crosby and Gibbons each have chances with a bouncing puck near the Ottawa net but can't beat Anderson.

19:01: Neal sweeps a quick wrister from the right wing on net. Anderson traps it against his chest.

18:36: Malkin snaps off a tricky wrister from the right circle. Anderson fights it off.

18:16: Jokinen flings a backhander from the right circle on net. Anderson kicks it out.

17:40: A wrister by Niskanen from the right point is blocked.

17:27: The Senators will get a power play as Niskanen is called for tripping Condra. Martin, Adams, Orpik and Sutter take the ice.

17:17: Adams pushes a puck up the right wing and whacks a slapper at the cage. Anderson deflects it out of play.

16:42: Things are evened up. Sutter steals a puck in the defensive zone and pushes it up ice. As he goes up the left wing, Adams drives down the slot and his shoved to the ice by Kyle Turris. That's two minutes for interference. We'll see four-on-four play for 1:15.

15:27: The Niskanen minor is killed. The penguins will have a power play for 45 seconds.

14:59: Off some puck movement on the perimeter, Niskanen booms a one-timer from the high slot. It hit something and deflects out of play.

14:42: Play returns to five-on-five.

12:54: Methot swipes a slapper from the top of the left circle. Fleury knocks it dead and covers the rebound.

12:37: Kunitz lifts a wrister from the slot. Anderson punches it away.

11:49: A wrister by Neal off the left wing is deflected wide.

11:27: Conacher lifts a wrister from the right wing. Fleury eats it up.

10:35: WOWWWWWWW! Off a give-and-go with MacArthur, Karlsson rips a wrister from the right circle with Fleury sprawling. FLeury is able to stretch to his left and absolutely robs Karlsson with a dazzling glove save. Un. Flipping. Real. Afterwards, Glass slashes Turris in the back of the legs. A scrum develops in the Penguins' right wing corner. Glass and Turris each get minors. We'll see four-on-four play for two minutes. As that is being sorted out, fans serenade Fleury with "FLERRR-EEEE! FLERRR-EEEE!" chants.

9:45: Off a bit of broken play, Spezza has a chance in tight and is denied by Fleury.

9:17: Off a set faceoff play, Maatta rips a wrister from the left point wide of the cage.

8:57: Chugging up the right wing, Neal releases a wrister wide of the cage.

8:29: As the minors to Glass and Turris expire, Malkin carries the puck out of his won zone and is tripped up by Ryan. Malkin appeared to take an easy tumble there as well. No calls.

8:19: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Jokinen will serve the minor. This is a huge two minutes. Martin, Sutter, Adams and Orpik take the ice.

7:26: Off a cross-ice feed by Karlsson, Ryan whacks a one-timer from the left circle wide on the near side.

7:19: Jokinen returns to the ice. That was a strong kill by the Penguins.

6:59: Adams steals a pass by Karlsson in the Penguins' zone and Glass clears the rebound.

6:39: Milan Michalek races up the right wing and tries to center a pass to the slot.

6:13: Ceci cranks a slapper form the slot. It hits a body and deflects a way. What a powerful shot.

5:39: Bortuzzo rips a slapper from above the left circle. It hits a body. He collects the rebound and snaps off a wrister which is off the mark.

5:08: Neil snaps off a wrister from the right circle to the far side. Fleury boots it away with his right toe.

4:46: Neal swoops behind the Ottawa cage, spins in the left circle and lifts a wrister which is blocked out of play.

4:11: Turris centers a pass from the right circle tot he slot. Scuderi reads it all the way and deflects it out of play. Conacher tumbles into the cage then slashes Scuderi. No call.

2:57: Big save! Neal tries to center a pass from below the goal line to the slot. Jokinen is there and rips a wrister which Anderson fights off somehow. Wow!

1:22: Off a steal in the Penguins' zone, Zibanejad chucks a backhander from the left circle wide to the far side.

0:54: A slapper by Martin from above the right circle deflects over the cage.

0:37: Martin chops another slapper from above the left circle. It hits a stick and deflects out of play.

0:02: Niskanen wipes a last second one-timer from the right point juuust wide to the near side.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Senators 1.

THIRD INTERMISSION

-The Penguins have a 44-25 lead in shots on net

OVERTIME

4:23: Kunitz pushes the puck up the left wing, gets a step on Karlsson and flings a wrister on net. Anderson snags it.

3:56: Crosby races up the right wing, fends off Smith and shuffles a one-handed backhander on net. Anders eats it up as Smith crashes into hand dislodges the net. Crosby gave Smith a shove into Anderson. Anderson takes a moment to collect himself and appears fine.

3:14:  Malkin lifts a wrister from the slot over the cage.

3:05: James  Neal to the rescue. Taking a pass from Malkin the slot, Bortuzzo rips a wrister which Anderson fights off. Neal settles the puck, drags it to the right circle and pumps it into the cage by a sprawling Methot and an out-of-place Methot. Bortuzzo and Malkin each get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. End of game. Penguins 2, Senators 1.

POSTGAME

-First things first, there was no update on the healthy of Taylor Pyatt.

-That game became a staring contest. The goaltenders took over and made this their game. Craig Anderson had by far a larger body of shots to contend with, but Marc-Andre Fleury shook off a few early jitters and dominated this game down the stretch. Each goaltender put on a marvelous display.

-If you didn't see Fleury's save on Erik Karlsson with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, here you go:

-Dang.

-The Senators offered a few reactions on the save:

Karlsson:

“That’s something that I did not count on. It’s a great save. I can’t really do anything else but tip my hat and say, ‘good job.’ I thought it was a clear shot on an open net but he clearly denied me, pretty hard too.”

Anderson:

“It was a game changer. Obviously, he’s quick. He moves well side to side and he always gives himself and opportunity make the save. I kind of broke into the league right around the same time as him. I’ve seen him make saves like that on numerous occasions coming up through the minors and the big show. Credit to him and his quickness and ability to make the big save. “

Jason Spezza:

“We know he makes those saves. He’s been known to make the big saves coming across. He’s quick, one of the quickest in the game. A pretty good shot by Erik. Not much more you can do. Just a good save. Tip your had to the goalie.”

Paul MacLean:

“I saw our goalie make a bunch of saves too. The game was 1-1. Goalies make saves. …Just… Nothing.”

-MacLean usually downplays things like that so his salty response isn't surprising.

-Dan Bylsma suggested it was the best save he  has seen live.

-James Neal chose a good time to break out of his goal-scoring slump. The patience he displayed in cleaning up the rebound off a Robert Bortuzzo show as sublime. His shot's accuracy had departed him in recent games and even in the early stages of this game. He came through with a big one tonight.

-Anderson deserved better. He made life difficult on the Penguins all night. He gave his team every chance to win this game.

-Brandon Sutter didn't get a single point, but he might have been the Penguins' best player of the game. He used his speed to create some offensive chances and he saw plenty of ice time against the Senators' top two lines. He helped out on both special teams units also. He made a zone entry which helped created Brian Gibbons goal and he pushed a puck up ice on a penalty kill which led to Kyle Turris taking a penalty against Craig Adams.

-Brian Gibbons rebounded after an ineffective game against the Coyotes Saturday. He also created a few things with his speed and even mixed things up physically a bit. He scored the Penguins' only regulation goal with a nice deflection in the slot.

-Rob Scuderi came through with two nice plays in the late stages of regulation. He broke up a centering pass off the right wing by Milan Michalek by simply skating with him step for step. Then he read a centering pass by Kyle Turris off the right wing and positioned himself to break it up with his stick. Scuderi might finally be coming around off his ankle injury.

-Maybe there's a distraction from the Olympics, but Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz just didn't have it tonight. They were a step off. They created chances, but their chemisty was off a bit tonight.

-Ditto Evgeni Malkin, Neal and Jussi Jokinen.

-Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik had clean game tonight. They needed an performance like that.

-Olli Maatta was spun silly by Stephane Da Costa on the play which led to Ottawa's only goal, but he made amends by clearing a poor rebound by Fleury out of the crease in the second period. Maatta had another solid game after the Ottawa goal.

-If Bobby Ryan wanted to prove Dan Bylsma and other Team USA brass wrong for not selecting him for the Olympic team, he didn't do it tonight.

-The Penguins led in shots on net, 48-25.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 74-52.

-Martin, Kunitz and Neal each led the game with six shots.

-Mika Zibanejad led the Senators with five shots.

-Karlsson led the Senators with 27:33 of ice time.

-Malkin led the Penguins with 24:27.

-Faceoffs were tied, 30-30 (50 percent).

-Spezza was 11 for 20 (55 percent).

-Crosby was 13 for 27 (48 percent).

-Maatta and Marc Methot each led the game with three blocked shots.

-Neal's overtime goal was his second of the season and second of his career with the Penguins.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

 

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About the Senators - 02-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

When and where: 7 p.m. EST. Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, TSN, RDS.

Record: 24-21-10, 58 points. The Senators is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: Erik Karlsson, 51 points (13 goals, 38 assists).

Last Game: 6-3 road loss to the Maple Leafs, Saturday. Chris Neil had two goals and an assist for the Senators.

Last Game against the Penguins: 5-0 home win, Dec. 23. Craig Anderson (right) made 27 saves for the Senators.

Senators Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Bobby Ryan. In six career games against the Penguins, he has six points.

Ex-Penguins on the Senators: None.

Ex-Senators on the Penguins: Jacques Martin, head coach; Ray Shero, general manager.

Useless Senators Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Senators left winger Chris Neil has 2,115 career penalty minutes, most of any player selected in the 1998 draft. Former Penguins/Senators left winger Jarkko Ruutu is second with 1,078.

Best Senators Video We Could Find: This! Is! ... a terrible ripoff of "300:"

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-1, 2.228 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Penguins. Craig Anderson (18-11-7, 3.07 GAA, .906 SV%) for the Senators.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang (illness) is out. Right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), center Joe Vitale ("upper body") and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Senators, defenseman Chris Phillips ("lower body") is out. Right winger Mark Stone ("upper body") is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not have normal line and defensive pairing rushes at today's morning skate. Consider this a guess based on Saturday's game against the Coyotes:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
15 Tanner Glass - 16 Brandon Sutter - 59 Jayson Megna
17 Taylor Pyatt - 27 Craig Adams - 5 Deryk Engelland

44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
3 Olli Maatta - 2 Matt Niskanen
4 Rob Scuderi - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

The Senators' lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

9 Milan Michalek - 19 Jason Spezza - 93 Mika Zibanejad
16 Clarke MacArthur - 7 Kyle Turris - 6 Bobby Ryan
14 Colin Greening - 15 Zack Smith - 25 Chris Neil
89 Cory Conacher - 24 Stephane Da Costa - 22 Erik Condra

2 Jared Cowen - 65 Erik Karlsson
3 Marc Méthot - 62 Eric Gryba
46 Patrick Wiercioch - 5 Cody Ceci

Notes:

-The last time the Penguins played the Senators, this happened:

-Kunitz has 199 career goals.

-Jokinen has 397 career points.

-Ryan needs three more points to tie former Islanders/Sabres/Maple Leafs/Stars left winger Randy Wood for the most career points by a New Jersey-born NHLer at 334.

-The referees are Chris Lee and Rob Martell. The linesmen are Derek Arnell and Tony Sericolo.

-Our live blog begins at approximately 6 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Counting down to signing day 2014: Offensive line/tight ends

Written by Sam Werner on .

Signing day is almost upon us. Pitt just announced today that Paul Chryst will hold a 3 p.m. press conference on Wednesday to discuss the newest Panthers, and I'll of course be in attendance. For now, let's take a look at the big hefties coming in this class...

Verbal commitments:
Alex Bookser (6-6, 295 lbs)
Mt. Lebanon High School (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.)
Rivals: 4*, No. 22 OT
Scout: 4*, No. 13 OT
247: 4*, No. 18 OT

Mike Grimm (6-6, 328 lbs)
Bethel Park High School (Bethel Park, Pa.)
Rivals: 4*, No. 26 OT
Scout: 3*, No. 67 OT
247: 3*, No. 42 OT

Connor Hayes (6-4, 270 lbs)
West High School (Traverse City, Mich.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 67 OG
247: 3*, No. 50 OT

Brian O'Neill (6-6, 230 lbs)
Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 2*, NR
247: 3*, No. 55 TE

While Pitt certainly missed out on some other important targets this year, landing Grimm and Bookser, probably the two best offensive linemen in the WPIAL, was huge for this class. Bookser is an elite prospect, and I think Grimm might be a bit underrated by recruiting services (and some fans) because he was a very early commitment to Pitt, and that probably deterred some other schools from offering him. He was a fixture at most Pitt home games this season and, I can say from standing next to him, he is a very large human being. At the very least, he has a massive raw physical frame for Chryst and offensive line coach Jim Hueber to work with.
For whatever concerns there may be about Chryst's recruiting ability, he has not had any problems bringing in good offensive linemen. Pitt looks good at offensive for next year, so I would expect that — barring a lot of injuries — all three of the linemen will redshirt in 2014. Chryst has also said that, especially with offensive linemen, it's always better to redshirt than not. Pitt has recruited well enough at the position over the past couple of years, that they now have that luxury with Bookser, Grimm and Hayes.
At tight end, O'Neill is an interesting prospect. He committed to Pitt last summer, and saw some increased interest from other programs after a very good senior season. With his size, he's definitely a true tight end, rather than the hybrid position that Pitt used a lot this year (think JP Holtz vs. Manasseh Garner). He'll probably take a redshirt, but if he can develop a good receiving game, at 6-foot-6, he can be a real weapon as a pass-catcher.

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Pitt recruit Rowan on torrid free-throw streak

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptop.

Lincoln Park sophomore Maverick Rowan is an excellent shooter. But what he has done lately from the free-throw line goes beyond excellence. 

It is perfection.

Rowan, who accepted a scholarship from Pitt last summer before his sophomore year, has made 41 free throws in a row. He has gone eight games without missing a free throw. His last miss came in a Jan. 10 game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. 

Rowan, a 6-foot-6 guard, also has made 55 of his past 56 free throws. For the season, he is 83 of 94 (88 percent). (Rowan is pictured below).

Maverick Rowan 400x365

It is not known what the WPIAL record is for consecutive free throws made. I did find a few streaks longer than Rowan's. Rob Kezmarsky made 52 free throws in a row in the 1989-90 season when he played for Laurel Highlands. Kezmarsky is now Uniontown's coach.

Also, I found Latrobe's Tom Mueseler of Latrobe made 48 in a row in the 1967-68 season. Mueseler signed with Clemson. I also found an old athlete of the week story I did on Sean Miller when he played at Blackhawk. He made 44 of 45 free throws at one point. I still remember him telling me his routine, "one, two, three, elbow to knee." In other words, three dribbles, bend until his elbow touched his knee and then straight up.

Rowan has a ways to go for the national record on consecutive free throws. Darryl Moreau of New Orleans De La Salle made 126 in a row from 1978-79.

Incidentally, Rowan leads Lincoln Park in scoring at 23.4 points a game. All five starters average in double figures for the Leopards.

Another title for Uniontown

Speaking of Kezmarsky, he has guided Uniontown to a 10-0 record in WPIAL Class AAA Section 3 play and the Raiders play Mount Pleasant tomorrow night. Mount Pleasant is 9-1. If Uniontown beats Mount Pleasant or if Uniontown wins its final game against Laurel Highlands, Uniontown will win its 47th section title, the most in WPIAL history.

Section 2 battle

Isn't the race in WPIAL Class AAA Section 2 interesting? Plum is in first place with a 10-2 record, but four teams are tied for second at 8-4 - Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway and Central Catholic. Depending on what happens this week, there could be a pretty decent team not making the playoffs. Or there could also be a tie for the fourth and final spot and all five teams could go.

Remember the name

I have yet to see him play, but I trust some coaches and others who have, and here is a name to remember in WPIAL basketball for the future. Phil Jurkovec.

Jurkovec is only in eighth grade at Pine-Richland but is gaining quite the reputation as a stud player. He plays for Pine-Richland's ninth-grade team and it's not uncommon to see him score 30 or even 40 in a game. He's about 6-3 and already throws down dunks in games.

From all indications, look for him to have an impact on Pine-Richland's varsity next year.

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Empty Netter Assists - 02-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-How many teams still use the "bag skate?"

-The Penguins held a mom's trip.

-Zach Sill's (right) hometown newspaper is reporting his injury involves his wrist and includes some tendon damage. He is expected to take eight to 10 weeks to recover.

-Happy 46th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Frantisek Kucera. Kucera came to the Penguins at the 2001 trade deadline in a deal that sent a sixth-round pick to the Blue Jackets. He appeared in seven games for the Penguins that season and recorded two assists. In the 2001 offseason, he was traded to the Capitals along with some other guy in exchange for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk.

-After the Jump: An embarrassing display by referee Wes McAuley and Henrik Lundqvist's Olympic lid.

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