Already without superstar captain Sidney Crosby due to concussion-like symptoms, the Penguins received a double dose of bad news on Sunday, as the club learned that forwards Jordan Staal and James Neal will both miss significant time with injuries.
Staal will miss approximately 4-to-6 weeks with a knee injury suffered in Friday's game against New York when he collided with Rangers forward Mike Rupp. Neal will be lost for "weeks" with a broken foot sustained when he blocked a shot in Saturday's contest against the New Jersey Devils.
The 23-year-old Staal has totaled 15 goals and 21 points in 34 games this season, while Neal leads Pittsburgh with 21 goals and ranks second in points with 36 over 40 contests.
Pens forward Craig Adams also aggravated an undisclosed injury Sunday at practice and is not expected to play tonight. Defenseman Paul Martin, meanwhile, is questionable for this evening's test due to an illness.
Pittsburgh, which is currently holding onto the last playoff seed in the East, has suffered four straight losses -- all in regulation -- on the heels of a four-game winning streak and the Pens have scored a total of five goals during the skid. This marks the first time Pittsburgh has lost four straight games in regulation since an 0-5 slide from Dec. 27, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010.
The Pens have lost each of their last three games by an identical 3-1 score and the latest setback came Saturday against the visiting New Jersey Devils. Martin Brodeur stopped 41 shots to frustrate Pittsburgh's depleted offense.
"Unfortunately, we're fighting to score goals," said Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma. "We just can't get that two-goal lead or doing the right things that will help us find that goal."
The Penguins, who are closing a three-game homestand tonight, are 11-6-2 as the host this season.
Ottawa enters tonight having won five of its last six tilts and the club has compiled an 8-1-2 record over the its last 11 trips to the ice. The surge has helped lift the Senators into the fifth seed in the East.
The Senators split a home-and-home series with Philadelphia this weekend. Ottawa dropped a 3-2 overtime decision Saturday in Philly, but rallied for a thrilling 6-4 victory on Sunday. Filip Kuba notched the game-winner with just over one minute left in regulation, as Ottawa used a four-goal third period to down the Flyers at Scotiabank Place.
Ottawa is 8-7-5 as the visiting team this year and is kicking off a three-game road trip tonight.
Both meetings between the Pens and Sens this year have been high-scoring affairs, as Pittsburgh notched a 6-3 home win on Nov. 25 and Ottawa recorded a 6-4 decision in Canada's capital on Dec. 16. Pittsburgh has taken four of six overall in this series and the Sens have dropped three straight and four of five in the Steel City.