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Pens try to avoid 3rd straight loss in meeting with Senators
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins hope to avoid losing three games in a row for the first time this season as they play host to the Ottawa Senators and their red-hot goaltender Craig Anderson on Wednesday evening.
The Penguins had ripped off five straight victories before getting swept in a home-and-home set by the New Jersey Devils over the weekend. Pittsburgh dropped a pair of 3-1 decisions, first in New Jersey and then at home on Sunday.
James Neal scored early in the third period for the Penguins to cut their deficit to two goals, but Pittsburgh failed to inch any closer in the finale. Tomas Vokoun gave up three goals on 23 shots in the setback, one day after No. 1 netminder Marc-Andre Fleury yielded three tallies on 28 shots faced.
The Pens were held to a season-low 24 shots in Sunday's loss and fell to 2-3-0 at home this season.
"I think (the Devils) do a good job of playing in the offensive zone, kind of killing the clock a bit, but that being said I still think we had our chances to get back in the game, even down three," said Pens captain Sidney Crosby, who was held without a point in both games of the home-and-home. "We got that early one in the third (period) and I think we're capable of getting two goals."
Pittsburgh is inching closer to getting a pair of defenseman back from injury in Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen, both of whom are battling lower body injuries.
Niskanen has missed eight straight and isn't expected back on Wednesday, though Letang is considered day-to-day after sitting out the past three contests. Both blueliners made it through practice on Tuesday.
The Senators, meanwhile, have been held to two goals or fewer in five of six games this month, but that was still enough to pick up a victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. Anderson stopped a season-high 42 shots for his second shutout of the season, keying a 2-0 win.
The Ottawa netminder leads the league with a 1.36 goals against average and .956 save percentage.
"It was just great to get the two points," said Anderson following his 21st career shutout. "The guys in front are doing a great job of boxing out and cleaning up any mess in front and allowed me to see the puck most of the time."
The Sens got their goals less than two minutes apart in the second period, with defenseman Erik Karlsson breaking a scoreless game with his first career short-handed marker. Erik Condra added his second goal of the season for Ottawa, which had lost two straight and four of five coming in.
Despite going 0-for-8 on the power play, the Senators managed to split a four- game homestand and will now play three straight as the guest. They have lost three in a row on the road.
It is unknown if Anderson will start again for Ottawa, which will look to avenge a 2-1 home shootout loss to Pittsburgh back on Jan. 27. Crosby, Neal and Evgeni Malkin all beat Anderson in the breakaway frame as the Penguins snapped a three-game slide to the Senators.
Fleury stopped 31 shots and 2-of-3 skaters in the shootout, while Anderson made 33 saves through overtime.
Ottawa has lost four of its past six in Pittsburgh.
02/13 10:38:29 ET