OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators have worked all season long to get to this moment.
For the first time since Jan. 27, eight days into the 2012-13 season, the Senators will in all likelihood ice their full lineup Sunday with the expected return of top center Jason Spezza for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I've gone through a full recovery," Spezza said after taking part in the team's optional skate Saturday at Scotiabank Place. "Obviously being off a long time, you're never going to be quite the same right away. But the doctor's say everything's fine and I've put in the work. It's not like I'm expecting to play out of the blue. I've been putting in time here for a while, a lot of skating, a lot of build up towards [playing]. I think I'm ready to go."
With the Senators trailing the best-of-7 series 0-2, Spezza's return from back surgery could not come at a better time. No matter how long it takes him to shake the rust, Spezza should be able to provide a positive impact on the struggling Ottawa power play and provide a good dose of offensive punch to a team that needs it.
"Anytime you can add a player of Jason's ability that's a huge, huge step," coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a No. 1 center, he's an 80-point player, fourth leading scorer in the League last year, he is very good on the power play and he can provide offense from anywhere on the ice. That's something that we don't have on our team right now, consistently."