Carkner to play key role

Matt Carkner will be playing alongside Chris Phillips in Pittsburgh tonight. (QMI Agency file photo)

Matt Carkner will be playing alongside Chris Phillips in Pittsburgh tonight. (QMI Agency file photo)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:29 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- From making the team out of training camp a little more than a year ago, to scoring a goal that ended the longest overtime in Senators history last spring, Matt Carkner's career has reached another level.

Coach Cory Clouston will throw a new look at the Penguins Monday by starting Carkner alongside shutdown defenceman Chris Phillips.

Sergei Gonchar will work with Chris Campoli, while Erik Karlsson and Brian Lee remain together.

Carkner, who started the season on the Senators 5-6 tandem and moved himself into a top four spot with Filip Kuba on the injured list, says he's looking forward to the challenge of trying to keep Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the board.

"We're going to be playing against some good players out there tonight," Carkner said after the morning skate at the new Consol Energy Center. "It should be fun."

Carkner, who is at minus 1 and has one assist after five games, has the fondest memories of Pittsburgh. It was at the old Mellon Arena in last April's playoff against the Penguins that his goal in triple overtime extended the series to Game 6.

Carkner's fame soared from that, but he developed no illusions about becoming an offensive star.

"I'm kind of a simple player, I like to make the simple plays and be good in my D-zone," Carkner said. "If I do that, playing with Philly ... he's going to make great plays. He's a real smart player, and I've just got to play my best for him.

"I haven't played with Philly a lot, but when I do it's definitely a privilege."

The Senators will make no roster changes for Monday's game, while it appears the only alterations made with the line combinations has been to move Chris Neil back on a line with Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu, while flipping Jesse Winchester back to a line with Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno.

At the Penguins morning skate, Marc-Andre Fleury said he would be on the bench tonight. That means Brent Johnson, who has a 3-0-0 record and a .953 save percentage, will make his third consecutive start.

The game is on Rogers Sportsnet Sens, with a broadcast start time of 7 p.m.


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