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Injury-riddled Penguins stop Senators, win 7th straight

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 5:22 p.m.
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The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (top) collides with the Senators' Sergei Gonchar during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Senators' Zach Smith (right) fights the Penguins' Robert Bortuzzo during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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Senators goalie Craig Anderson lets a shot by the Penguins' Dustin Jeffrey (not pictured) into the net as Pascal Dupuis watches during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Senators' Chris Phillips (right) keeps the puck from the Penguins' Matt Cooke during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013, in Ottawa.
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The Penguins' Dustin Jeffrey celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Brenden Morrow (10) and Pascal Dupuis on Monday, April 22, 2013.
The Senators' Milan Michalek tries to get a shot off against Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (top) collides with the Senators' Sergei Gonchar during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Penguins' Matt Niskanen pins the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson against the boards Monday, April 22, 2013.
The Senators' Kyle Turris tries to get control the puck as Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun and Robert Bortuzzo defend during the first period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Penguins' Tyler Kennedy (left) celebrates his goal with Matt Cooke as the Senators' Chris Neil skates by during the third period Monday, April 22, 2013.
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun makes a save as the Senators' Guillaume Latendresse looks for a rebound during the second period Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis looks for an opening against the Senators' Marc Methot on Monday, April 22, 2013.
The Penguins' Matt Cooke checks the Senators' Cory Conacher during the third period Monday, April 22, 2013.
Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun protects the net against the Senators on Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Penguins' Chris Kunitz checks the Senators' Eric Gryba on Monday, April 22, 2013.
The Penguins' Tyler Kennedy (48) celebrates with teammates Brandon Sutter (16) and Matt Cooke after a goal Monday, April 22, 2013.
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The Senators' Chris Neil checks the Penguins' Simon Despres and knocks his helmet off as Craig Adams looks on Monday, April 22, 2013.
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Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun makes a save in front of defenseman Brooks Orpik and the Senators' Colin Greening on Monday, April 22, 2013.

OTTAWA — Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who's launching a forensic investigation about Matt Cooke's injuring Erik Karlsson in February, should be suspicious of the entire Penguins' roster.

Losing doesn't appear to be in the Penguins' DNA.

Playing without a group that could comprise one-third of an NHL All-Star team, the Penguins simply went about their business again — this time in hostile territory — and won their seventh straight in a 3-1 victory against the Senators. They have won 22 of their past 24 games.

“I think it shows that we're hungry and that we always want to win,” said right wing Jarome Iginla, who scored the game-winning goal. “We're without great players, obviously, but we have that confidence.”

Coach Dan Bylsma claimed his 200th career win.

Also, goalie Tomas Vokoun earned the 300th career victory and is 13-4 this season.

“It's a pretty nice milestone,” said Vokoun. “There are a lot of great goaltenders out there. It shows consistency.”

So do the Penguins, who haven't lost a game all season when leading after two periods.

The Penguins (35-10, 70 points) played in Ottawa without eight key contributors. Sidney Crosby (broken jaw), Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), James Neal (concussion), Kris Letang (food poisoning), Paul Martin (broken hand), Marc-Andre Fleury (wife close to giving birth), Beau Bennett (upper-body injury) and Mark Eaton (rest) all missed Monday's game.

Yet the Penguins keep winning. They are 18-5 on the road, including 11-1 against teams in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Center Dustin Jeffrey was the surprise hero for the Penguins, receiving a spot in the lineup and quickly capitalizing with a goal and an assist in the first period.

“This was my opportunity,” Jeffrey said. “I wanted to do something with it.”

Holding a 2-0 lead in the third period, the Penguins allowed one goal but wouldn't crack. Cooke set up Tyler Kennedy to put the game away.

The game meant essentially nothing in the standings for the Penguins and everything for the Senators, who have one-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The Penguins appeared to exit the game unscathed, though defenseman Simon Despres absorbed a nasty hit from Senators forward Chris Neil in the second period. Neil's arm seemed to make contact with Despres' head. He received only a two-minute penalty, and the Penguins, who retaliated, found themselves shorthanded.

Bylsma was dumbfounded by the ruling and thought Neil deserved more of a punishment.

“I don't think you need to see the hit on a replay to see how it happened,” Bylsma said.

Replays aren't required to explain why the Penguins are winning right now.

“I like so many things that we're doing right now,” defenseman Douglas Murray said. “We're just playing the game the right way. We stood up for each other tonight, but we were here to get the win. And that's what we did.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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