The Penguins have gone as Sidney Crosby has in his first two games since returning to the lineup -- spectacular at first and uneven in the second.
The superstar center looks to continue finding his bearings when the Penguins wrap up a three-game homestand Friday night against the Ottawa Senators.
Crosby made his long-anticipated return from post-concussion symptoms in stellar fashion Monday with two goals and two assists as the Penguins (12-6-4) routed the New York Islanders 5-0. He found things tougher two nights later when the St. Louis Blues clogged the passing lanes and held him off the scoresheet in a 3-2 overtime loss.
One positive was Crosby playing almost three more minutes of ice time Wednesday night, logging nearly 19. However, he also took three minor penalties and accrued more than five penalty minutes for just the sixth time in his career and admitted he wasn't much of a factor early on.
"The first two periods weren't good, no real explanation or excuses," Crosby said. "I think we were outplayed and the third we were much more desperate and got to our game a little more and got our results, but we didn't deserve that one."
Pittsburgh had a six-game home winning streak snapped but has at least one point in seven straight there (6-0-1), its longest run since going 7-0-1 from Nov. 15-Dec. 8, 2010. Crosby had two goals and two assists in three games against Ottawa last season before his injury, and he's notched four goals and 13 assists in 20 lifetime meetings.
Ottawa (10-9-2) is wrapping up a six-game road swing that can already be labeled successful and also has had the luxury of being idle since Sunday. The Senators had a three-game win streak come to an end with a 2-1 overtime loss at Vancouver, but they extended their point streak to four.
Getting some rest and extra practice time after touring the Canadian northwest was welcomed by first-year coach Paul MacLean, who would like to see his power-play unit end a funk that has seen it go scoreless the last three games and 2 of 30 in the past nine.
"It's a good opportunity for us," MacLean told the team's official website. "It's a good practice window for us of three days, and we're going to take advantage of it. We can continue to progress in our game and some work on special teams ... just build on the foundation we have and keep improving on what we do."
The additional time off also has proven beneficial for goaltender Craig Anderson, who was a late scratch Sunday due to a stiff neck. He has a personal three-start winning streak, stopping 96 of 101 shots.
Anderson is 2-1-0 with one tie and a 1.99 goals-against average versus the Penguins, who handed him a 5-1 defeat in the most recent meeting between the teams March 15.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has 19 goals and 54 points in 58 games versus the Penguins, but only one goal in his last 11 matchups.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.