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Some of the NHL's best young talent lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins into the playoffs for the first time in six years. Lack of experience may keep them from getting any further.
After regaining home-ice advantage, the seasoned Ottawa Senators look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Penguins as the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series continues Tuesday night.
Ottawa won at Pittsburgh 4-2 in Game 3 on Sunday, bouncing back from a 4-3 loss at home barely 24 hours before.
The Senators took back home ice by slowing the Penguins' stars and getting two key goals from one of their own, captain Daniel Alfredsson.
"We've got the momentum now and we would definitely like to keep it," said Alfredsson, who scored both of his goals in the second period.
Ottawa, which is making its 10th straight playoff appearance but has not reached the Stanley Cup finals, seemed to rely on its experience to regain control against the Penguins. Alfredsson, in his 11th season with the Senators, has three goals and two assists in the series.
By contrast, Pittsburgh rookie star Evgeni Malkin took his first four shots of the series Sunday and has only four goals in his last 27 games.
The Penguins have been outshot 99-66 in the series. Sidney Crosby, the NHL scoring champion, had five shots Sunday but didn't score until 5:20 remained with Ottawa leading 4-1.
"We can't afford to get down 3-1. We've got to come out with a much better effort Tuesday," said forward Gary Roberts, a veteran of 13 postseasons who was acquired from Florida in February to help a Penguins team making its first playoff appearance since 2000-01.
Pittsburgh is averaging just 2.33 goals in its last six games. The Penguins finished the regular season tied for third in the NHL with 267 goals.
The Senators know how dangerous the Penguins can be if they get hot, having twice lost third-period leads in Saturday's series-tying loss. Pittsburgh went 3-1-0 against Ottawa in the regular season.
"We have to continue to get better," Senators forward Mike Fisher said. "We know they are a good team and they're going to bounce back."
Ottawa may be without forward Patrick Eaves, who was taken off on a stretcher after being leveled by Colby Armstrong midway through the second period Sunday. Eaves was carrying the puck around the net in the Pittsburgh end when Armstrong put a shoulder hit on him.
Eaves seemed to be knocked unconscious on the play, but was seen talking and moving his hands while he was leaving the ice. He was not taken to a hospital, and the Senators said he had a head injury - likely a concussion.
Eaves will miss Game 4 and be replaced by Oleg Saprykin
"He's a lot better today," Senators coach Bryan Murray said Monday. "He needs a little time, of course. A little headache, but beyond that, he's OK."
Ottawa defenseman Christoph Schubert, meanwhile, returned after missing most of Game 2 with a neck injury.
Pittsburgh failed to really test the Senators' Ray Emery, who allowed two goals on just 19 shots. His counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury, faced 25 shots after the Senators had totaled 73 in the first two games.
Fleury is 3-3-0 with a 4.35 goals-against average this season against Ottawa, including playoffs. He has held the Senators to less than three goals once in 10 career games against them.
Game 5 will be Thursday night in Ottawa.