It might seem like an also-ran such as the Ottawa Senators would be a perfect opponent for the reeling Pittsburgh Penguins, but recent history suggests otherwise.
The Senators visit PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday with seemingly little pressure, having won two straight games with points in five of their past eight.
Pittsburgh, conversely, has lost six in a row to fall into third place in the Metropolitan Division after briefly taking over first place. That includes a winless road trip through California against the three worst teams in the Western Conference, concluding with Saturday's 5-0 loss at San Jose.
That has left the Penguins struggling for answers and confidence, although they appear to be saying the right things.
Pittsburgh captain and star center Sidney Crosby was unusually critical of himself.
"I put it on myself," Crosby said. "I've got to step up. Key situations ... you're losing games, you need big plays and big performances. I haven't done that. That's on me."
Not so fast, his coach said.
"It's my responsibility to try and get this team playing to its capabilities," Mike Sullivan said. "We know we're a good team when we play the right way."
The Penguins also score when they are at the top of their game, but they have only eight goals during the six-game skid.
They hope that having three of their next four games at home will help.
"We're so frustrated," Pittsburgh forward Jared McCann said. "We are all on the same page. We all care. We want to have success and we want to do the right things. We understand what it takes to win in here. So, we just need to get home. We're going to hit the reset button, get home and come on strong the next game.
"We aren't going to mope. We aren't going to blame each other. We're not going to blame anybody. We're going to be better. We're going to show what we can do."
The Penguins will have to do that without winger Dominik Simon, who left Saturday's game and is out on a week-to-week basis because of an upper-body injury, Sullivan said.
On the flip side, Pittsburgh defensemen Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery, missed 35 games) and John Marino (facial surgery, missed nine games) practiced in their regular spots Monday and are game-time decisions for Tuesday.
Ottawa, meanwhile, expects to get center Colin White back after he missed the past three games because of an undisclosed injury after being checked into the boards.
The Senators, who play six of their next seven games on the road, are looking to win three in a row for just the second time this season and first time since the third week of November.
They are coming off a 5-2 win Thursday against Vancouver and a 4-3 shootout win Saturday against Detroit and are trying to get anything they can out of the last month or so of the season. They sit third from the bottom of the overall NHL standings.
"We just try to celebrate every win," said forward Artem Anisimov, who helped that along when he scored twice and fired the shootout winner against the Red Wings.
--Field Level Media