NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
Pittsburgh 0 0 3 3
Ottawa 0 4 2 6
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00 BRT, November 13, 2021
Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario  Attendance: 14,661

Senators down 9 players to COVID for battle with Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators

  1. Pittsburgh is 10-2-2 against the Senators since the start of 2015-16, not counting its seven-game series win over Ottawa in the 2017 playoffs. The Penguins have won the last three matchups -- all in Pittsburgh -- but these teams haven't met since March 2020.
  2. The Penguins won 3-2 in a shootout against the Panthers on Thursday night following back-to-back shootout losses to Minnesota and Chicago. It's the first time Pittsburgh has gone to a shootout in three straight games since they won four shootouts in a row in March 2011.
  3. The Senators lost 2-0 to the Kings on Thursday night for their sixth loss in a row, the longest active losing streak in the NHL. This was also the first time the Senators have been shut out since February 2020 (3-0 loss to Montreal).
  4. Evan Rodrigues scored his fourth goal of the season Thursday, tying Danton Heinen for the team lead. His career high is nine goals, set in 2018-19 in 72 games with the Sabres.
  5. Brady Tkachuk has 25 penalty minutes through 10 games this season. It's the most any Senator has accumulated through his first 10 games of a season since Mark Borowiecki in 2018-19, and the most by any Senators captain since Randy Cunneyworth in 1996-97.
  6. The Penguins are the only team in the NHL to not have a player with nine or more points this season, led by Jake Guentzel and Evan Rodrigues with eight apiece. The only other team without a player with 10+ points is the last-place Islanders.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' roster has been in flux, but it's doubtful that their hosts Saturday, the Ottawa Senators, have much sympathy.

The Senators have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 cases. The count seems to change by the day and even by the hour, but coming out of Thursday's 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Kings, they were without nine players plus associate coach Jack Capuano. All are vaccinated, and all had at least some symptoms.

"There are ups and downs to a season, and this is just another challenge that brings the group together," Ottawa center Nick Paul said. "This is a situation where the group needs to stick together and have each others' backs, prepare for the game, put our best foot forward and work hard. We have to play as a team."

Paul's notion of sticking together has to be figurative at this point, given the extra precautions being taken to try to stop the spread, including things such as masking and boxed meals.

Coach D.J. Smith and some players are staying at hotels, and Smith indicated other players are separating themselves from family members at home.

"I have two young kids at home, and you can't go home and you can't put your kids at risk because they can't go to school," Smith said. "Everyone is dealing with different situations."

Senators players out because of COVID-19, as of midday Friday, were Matt Murray, Nikita Zaitsev, Alex Formenton, Connor Brown, Austin Watson, Victor Mete, Dylan Gambrell, Josh Brown and Nick Holden, with lots of call-ups filling in.

And it's not as if rallying around the adversity has led to winning.

Ottawa has seven points in 13 games, sitting second-to-last in the league standings, and has lost six consecutive games while scoring 11 goals in that stretch.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, broke a two-game losing streak Thursday with a 3-2 shootout win at home against the Florida Panthers.

The Penguins have played beyond regulation in four straight games.

They aren't in the dire straits Ottawa is in, but they still are dealing with lineup absences.

Team captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby and top-pairing defensemen Brian Dumoulin, as well as coach Mike Sullivan, are in COVID-19 protocol, and each experienced symptoms.

Crosby could come out of protocol Saturday, but it seems unlikely he will play. Pittsburgh canceled its practice Friday - the team on Saturday begins a stretch of nine games in 15 days -- so there were no personnel updates.

Crosby contracted the virus after playing in just one game, Oct. 30 against New Jersey. He missed the Penguins' first seven games after wrist surgery.

He is one of eight players on the team who are or have been in COVID-19 protocol, but it hasn't all hit at once as with Ottawa.

Pittsburgh center Teddy Blueger said the team has filled the gaps by "staying together, picking each other up when there are mistakes. Just kind of builds our character overall as a team."

Pittsburgh also could play Saturday without defenseman Marcus Pettersson. He made his return from a bout with COVID-19 for Thursday's game, but he left in the first period after taking a high hit from Florida's Owen Tippett. There has been no update on his status.

-- Field Level Media

Updated November 12, 2021

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