Fleury to start against Sens

Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the team's No. 1 between the pipes but he has the weaker...

Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the team's No. 1 between the pipes but he has the weaker record against the Senators. (QMI Agency Files)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Senators have had all sorts of trouble against goalie Brent Johnson in the past.

It’s not something they have to worry about Friday night.

Despite the fact his team is on a stretch of four games in six nights, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will use his No. 1 netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury, against the Senators.

Fleury, who played Monday and Wednesday and is sure to get the call in his home province Saturday when the Penguins play the Montreal Canadiens in the second of back-to-back games, is off to a great start this season.

He has, however, struggled against Ottawa over his career, compiling a 6-8-1 record with a 3.63 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.

Johnson, who has played only six games this season, has dominated the Senators with an 8-1-1 record, 1.99 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Yet Bylsma announced following Friday’s morning skate that Fleury will start, and when his logic was questioned, given the numbers, he sheepishly repeated that “Marc-Andre will start,” almost as though he wasn’t aware of the numbers.

Or maybe he doesn’t care.

The Penguins are considered heavy favourites versus Ottawa, primarily because they are anxious to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss in St. Louis but also because up and down their lineup, they are a much better team.

Then there’s the Sidney Crosby factor.

After returning from a concussion with four points in Monday’s win over the Islanders, the Penguins captain was held off the sheet by the Blues. To have similar success, the Senators know what they have to do.

“We’ve played quite a bit against him in the past,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said Friday morning. “We know if we give him time and space in the neutral zone, he gets his speed going and he can pick us apart pretty easy. Controlling the puck in the neutral zone is important for us.”

Craig Anderson starts in goal as the Senators try to extend a regulation-time unbeaten streak to five games.


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