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Penguins vs Senators

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 7:47 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Morrow in Penguins lineup, scores opening goal

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brenden Morrow must have some power of persuasion.

Morrow, who missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, and took line rushes with the extra forwards at the morning skate Friday, found his way back into the lineup for Game 5.

He scored the first goal of the game 6:25 into the first period.

Morrow said Friday morning he felt better and it would be a game-time decision whether he played.

He replaced forward Beau Bennett, who played in Game 4. To start the game, Morrow was on Pittsburgh's fourth line with Jussi Jokinen and Craig Adams.

Here is what the Penguins lineup looked like for Game 5:

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators not focused on Alfredsson's future

PITTSBURGH -- If the Ottawa Senators are at all worried about the possibility of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday being the final game of their captain's career, they aren't talking as if they are.

"Well, if it is, we'll make it a fun one," defenseman Erik Karlsson said with a smile about Daniel Alfredsson.

"He was dangling me in 'keep away' all morning," defenseman Marc Methot said, referring to the common morning-skate drill. "So if you ask me, he's got a couple years left under his belt."

The Senators kept a loose, upbeat posture throughout the morning skate and after it Friday, but a loss in Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) would have serious ramifications. Not only would it eliminate Ottawa from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and end its season, it could end the career of the franchise's longtime captain.

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators set to unite Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek

PITTSBURGH -- If the Ottawa Senators are going down, they're going down with their most talented and experienced forwards skating together to start a game in which they're facing elimination.

Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek have combined for 2,338 regular-season NHL games and 2,084 points. The trio was united for line rushes during the morning skate in advance of Friday's Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

With Ottawa down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, coach Paul MacLean said he'd have his tenured trio out on the ice for the opening faceoff in an attempt to steer momentum the Senators' way.

"That's a line we can always go back to," MacLean said. "Obviously they're a veteran threesome that's played a number of games in the League. We've always felt we could go to that, just because they're veteran players. The start of the game hasn't been very good for us these first four games; maybe if we start veterans out on the ice at the beginning of the game it can have a calming effect on the rest of the group."

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins shrug off Alfredsson's remarks

PITTSBURGH -- Not surprisingly, the comments made by Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in the aftermath of Game 4 were still a primary topic of discussion 36 hours later on the morning of Game 5.

After absorbing a 7-3 shellacking in Game 4 Wednesday, on home ice, no less, Alfredsson was asked if he could see his team winning three straight games to wriggle free of the elimination situation they now face for the duration of this best-of-7 series, starting Friday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

His answer sent shockwaves across the province of Ontario and many other hockey-mad communities across North America.

"Probably not," Alfredsson said in the Ottawa dressing room Wednesday night. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, you know, it doesn't look too good."

Many saw that statement as a concession speech of sorts from the Ottawa leader. Others saw it as a motivational ploy. Alfredsson has since tried to clarify his comment but has not backed off it.

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins likely to stick with same lineup in Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- It does not appear Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is going to mess with a good thing.

Judging from line rushes during the morning skate Friday in preparation for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), it appears the Penguins will ice the same lineup that dominated the final 40 minutes of Game 4 Wednesday in Ottawa.

The biggest questions revolved around forward Brenden Morrow, who missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, and forward Chris Kunitz, who barely played in the third period of Game 4.

They were on the ice Friday morning at Consol Energy Center. Kunitz took a regular turn on his normal line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Morrow was relegated to the collection of extra forwards during the line rushes.

Morrow said he felt good during the skate and that his participation in Game 5 would be a game-time decision, but it appears Bylsma will stay with veteran Jussi Jokinen and rookie Beau Bennett, each of whom joined Craig Adams on a reconstituted fourth line.

Here is how the Penguins lined up at the morning skate:

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 11:42 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Morrow possibility for Penguins for Game 5

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brenden Morrow, who sat out Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators with an undisclosed injury, skated with the team Friday and said he would be a game-time decision for Game 5 Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Morrow has a goal and two assists in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 11:05 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators learned how to come back with Binghamton

OTTAWA -- When a team faces a 3-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the way the Ottawa Senators do in their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first step to overcoming it is a belief it can be done.

As the Senators prepare to embark on that monumental challenge when they play Game 5 at Pittsburgh on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), they do so loaded with players who have that belief firmly lodged in their minds because they’ve done it before.

In the first round of the 2011 American Hockey League playoffs, the Binghamton Senators fell behind 3-1 in a best-of-7 against the Manchester Monarchs. But Binghamton won Game 5 in overtime, Game 6 in double overtime, and Game 7 in overtime to win the series.

The Baby Sens went on to win the Atlantic Division Finals in six games, the Eastern Conference Finals in a sweep, and the Calder Cup final in six games.

There are 12 members of the Senators organization in these Stanley Cup Playoffs who were members of the 2010-11 Binghamton Senators.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 10:41 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Alfredsson stands behind postgame comments

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson did not back down Thursday from what he said following his team's 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday, but he did feel his sentiments were taken somewhat out of context.

Following the loss that put the Senators in a 3-1 series hole heading into Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), Alfredsson was asked if it was feasible to beat the Penguins three times in a row.

"Probably not," Alfredsson responded. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, you know, it doesn't look too good.”

Alfredsson later spoke about how the Senators have had a never-quit attitude all season and that maybe they will thrive on the steep odds they were facing in the series, saying "maybe that's the way we like it."

He said Thursday he felt the second part of his comments were overshadowed by the first part, but he stuck to his belief that the Senators have a difficult road ahead.

"There's no denying we're in tough," Alfredsson said. "Was it taken out of context? Probably, but that's fine. I can handle that. We're down 3-1 to a very good team and going back to their building. We're just going to go in there and give them a hell of a game. We've always responded really well when our backs are against the wall and this is no different. The good thing is we're still in the playoffs, it's not over. So we're going to go in there and give them everything we have."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 10:26 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Pirates to wear Penguins jerseys on road trip

The Pittsburgh Pirates will be wearing a different kind of black and gold when they travel to Milwaukee and Detroit this weekend -- they'll don Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys to show their support.

"There's a large contingency that have their fingers on the pulse of Penguins hockey," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. "And they pull the other ones in regardless of whether they want to be pulled in or not."

Hurdle got his own custom Penguins jersey, with his No. 13 and name on the back, delivered to his office at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins likely to go to Jokinen for faceoff, PP ability

OTTAWA -- It would appear Jussi Jokinen will be back in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma does not confirm his lineup decisions, but he did at least speak in hypothetical terms Wednesday morning about what Jokinen would bring to his lineup if he dressed.

"Jussi is a guy who's been out of our lineup and you're sitting on a guy who can make plays, score big goals, he's a faceoff guy," Bylsma said. "He's also a guy who would see time on our second power-play unit as well."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 1:30 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators' Gryba skates, but not ready to return

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba skated with his teammates Wednesday for the first time since taking a big hit from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

Gryba will not play in Game 4 Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), but he was happy to take this first step toward an eventual return to the lineup.

"It was a relief to get back out there and not be stuck in the gym," Gryba said.

Gryba has had an eventful Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Senators, first getting suspended for two games for his hit on Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller in the first round, then being hurt on the big collision with Orpik near the Penguins' blue line in Game 1.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 12:24 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Stone replacing Conacher in Senators lineup

OTTAWA -- The youth movement for the Ottawa Senators continues; 21-year-old forward Mark Stone will enter the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Ottawa is down 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, and Senators coach Paul MacLean wanted a bigger body around the opposing net, something the 6-foot-2, 188-pound wing can provide.

"We factored in how well [Stone] has played in the American Hockey League [with Binghamton] this year," MacLean said of Stone, who tied for the AHL team lead with 38 points. "He's really had a good season there. He's really good with the puck and without it. He's a big man down around the net."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 4:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins could add Jokinen to aid power play

OTTAWA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins may be welcoming one of their trade-deadline acquisitions back into the lineup for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Center Jussi Jokinen skated on the fourth line and worked on the second unit of the struggling Penguins power play at practice Tuesday, suggesting he likely will be reinserted into the lineup for the first time since being scratched in Game 5 of the first round against the New York Islanders, a span of four games.

"Especially this time of the year, or anytime you're not playing all the time, it's not easy to watch from the press box," said Jokinen, acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes on NHL Trade Deadline day April 3. "I'll try to play to my strengths, try to be good on faceoffs, be a good two-way player and do everything I can to help the team win."

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Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 6:45 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins still feel sting from stunning Game 3 loss

OTTAWA - A day had passed, but the pain had not yet completely subsided Monday for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The mental pain of Sunday night's double-overtime loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators was still on the minds of the Penguins after a night of sleep. They were still wondering how they could have possibly allowed the tying goal with just 28.6 seconds remaining on regulation time while they were on a power play.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 3:11 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins' penalty kill about to face new challenge

OTTAWA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins began Sunday with the third-best penalty kill in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 88.9 percent, but will face a brand-new challenge in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Senators will be welcoming back Jason Spezza to the lineup after he missed more than three months recovering from back surgery, and the No. 1 area where he is likely to help Ottawa will be on the power play.

The Senators scored a power-play goal in four of the five regular-season games Spezza played. They scored with the man advantage in 18 of their remaining 43 games, so his introduction to a power play that has scored once in seven chances in the series is a major development.

"He brings a skill dynamic to their power play that isn't there otherwise," said Penguins forward Matt Cooke, one of his team's primary penalty killers. "We have to limit his time and space, but we can't change really much. We just have to stay with our approach and just recognize when he's on the ice."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 12:51 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins without Vitale in Game 3

OTTAWA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without left wing Joe Vitale when they face the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Vitale did not play in the first four games of Pittsburgh’s first-round victory against the New York Islanders, but coach Dan Bylsma said he has become an important member of his team who will be missed.

"His speed was really evident," Bylsma said. "In those third- and fourth-line situations he brought that speed, he brought that tenacity. He was a difference-maker."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 12:45 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators hope Spezza's return gets Michalek going

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators are hoping the return of Jason Spezza for Game 3 on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins may also mean the re-emergence of his linemate, Milan Michalek.

The struggles of Michalek during the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been difficult to ignore. The 28-year-old missed 24 regular-season games with a right knee injury, eventually requiring arthroscopic surgery in March to clean out debris around the joint. In 23 games, Michalek scored four goals and 10 assists. Since his return on April 12, Michalek has rarely participated in practices, electing instead to rest and recuperate.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 11:51 AM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators announce Spezza part of Game 3 lineup

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators find themselves down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into Game 3 Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But the Senators are hoping the return of Jason Spezza to their lineup provides the spark they desperately need.

Spezza has been out of the lineup since Jan. 27, and a herniated disc in his back forced the 29-year-old to undergo surgery.

"[Spezza] gives us more depth," coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a legitimate No. 1 center."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 8:42 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins want to clean up parts of their game

OTTAWA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins may be comfortably ahead 2-0 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators, but they are fully cognizant of the fact there are some improvements that can still be made for Game 3 on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

“We’re confident, but we’re not confident we’ll win the series,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said Saturday. “That’s a team with a lot of character and we expect they will play their best game.”

After winning Game 1 rather handily by a 4-1 score, the Penguins had a 3-1 lead early in the second period of Game 2 on Friday but allowed the Senators to make it a one-goal game before holding on for a 4-3 win.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily disappointed with anything,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think last game we’d like to correct a few big mistakes we made to give them some pretty good opportunities, but other than that I thought we did a pretty good job of having the momentum for most of the game.

“They’re going to be desperate, so we know that this is going to be the toughest game yet.”

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 8:17 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins aware of Spezza's impact on Senators

OTTAWA -- No team understands the emotional lift the long-awaited return of a star player can provide better than the Pittsburgh Penguins do.

So they are very well prepared for the impact the likely return of Jason Spezza to the Ottawa Senators lineup will have on the complexion of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

With captain Sidney Crosby having made a similar return on several occasions, and Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang doing the same, the Penguins are ready to face a very different Senators team.

"I expect them to be really energized and desperate," Crosby said Saturday. "Adding a player like Jason, he's a big part of their team. He's been around for a long time and he's definitely going to give them a boost."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 7:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza 'ready to go' for Game 3 against Penguins

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."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 7:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Letang, Adams in lineup for Game 2

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins created a bit of intrigue Friday morning at the morning skate when neither top defenseman Kris Letang nor checking forward Craig Adams took the ice for the 35-minute session. But both were on the ice for the pre-game warmups and dressed for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Benoit, Latendresse back in for Senators

PITTSBURGH -- After sitting and watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past two weeks, Andre Benoit and Guillaume Latendresse are eager to make an impact for the Ottawa Senators.

Coach Paul MacLean confirmed both will be in the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza return could come as early as Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- It won't be for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday night, but Jason Spezza continues to inch closer to a return to the Ottawa Senators lineup.

The team won't rule out the chance his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut will come Sunday.

Coach Paul MacLean said he expects Spezza to join the team for what figures to be an optional practice in Ottawa on Saturday. Spezza, who hasn't played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury that required surgery, has been skating on his own in Ottawa in recent days and MacLean reported the center is making progress.

"We will see him [Saturday] and we'll go through [Saturday's] practice and the pregame skate for Sunday and we'll see where it is," MacLean said after the morning skate Friday at Consol Energy Center. "But if he's available to us, you know, it's Jason Spezza. We're going to have him in the lineup if he's available."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 12:25 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Bylsma supports MacLean as Jack Adams winner

PITTSBURGH -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is one of the finalists for the Jack Adams Award, joining Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks in contention for the NHL's coach of the year award.

The coach MacLean is facing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins head man Dan Bylsma, said he believes MacLean might be the most-deserving of the finalists.

"He deserves it," Bylsma said Friday morning before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. "I wasn't casting a vote, but certainly what he's done, you talk about last year coming into an Ottawa Senators team that he didn't know what to expect or where they would be at, he did a great job last year.

"But this year, different challenges for his team and group and they've dealt with some injuries and still consistently been a good hockey team without some of their key guys and with some of their key guys, and I would have cast a vote for him as well."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 11:50 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Letang, Adams not present for Pens' morning skate

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins created a bit of intrigue Friday morning at their morning skate when neither top defenseman Kris Letang nor checking forward Craig Adams took the ice for the 35-minute session.

Their status for Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night at the Consol Energy Center is unknown.

There was no reason provided for the absences, but it should be noted each took part in a long -- and high-paced -- practice Thursday.

"The people on the ice this morning and our injuries are a non-discussion," coach Dan Bylsma said after the morning skate.

With Letang missing, Mark Eaton slid into the rotation on the blue line. Forward Jussi Jokinen took Adams' spot. Each played in the first-round victory against the New York Islanders before being replaced by injured players returning to the lineup.

This is how the Penguins looked during the morning skate:

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 11:15 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Vokoun set to start Game 2 for Penguins

Tomas Vokoun confirmed Friday morning he will be back in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS, CBC).

Since taking over for Marc-Andre Fleury, who played the first four games of the first round against the New York Islanders, the veteran Vokoun has won all three starts while posting an NHL-best postseason save percentage of .962 and a goals-against average of 1.28 that is second only to the Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford (1.27).

Coach Dan Bylsma, as per his policy, did not discuss the Penguins' lineup at his morning press conference, nor would he address the reason defenseman Kris Letang and forward Craig Adams did not participate in the morning skate. Both players practiced fully on Thursday.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 5:00 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Neal, Iginla show flexibility in switching wings

PITTSBURGH -- While outsiders fret over the thought putting usual right wings James Neal and Jarome Iginla on the same line, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has a quick quip of a retort.

"The best thing I can tell you is that James Neal never played the right side when he got here," Bylsma said. "He said, 'I only play the left.' I said, 'That's great, that's four or five minutes a game you won't be playing with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.'

"He circled back around and he said, 'Hey, I'll try the right.'"

Bylsma's point was that forwards can make it work if put in the right situation -- even if on an unfamiliar wing. And with the Penguins tending to stick with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis as Crobsy's wings, that leaves Neal and Iginla for Malkin.

Nice consolation prize. From one Hart Trophy winner to another as your center.

"I've been really lucky to get a chance to play with both Sid and Geno," said Iginla, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames in a March 28 trade. "The lines do shake up however the flow of the game is gong. We're prepared to play whatever the dynamic is."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 4:30 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators look to Latendresse for physical spark

PITTSBURGH -- Over the 48 hours since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has taken virtually any opportunity to talk about how his team's competition level and physicality needed to improve if they had a chance of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Enter 6 feet, 2 inches and 230 pounds of competition level and physicality.

Guillaume Latendresse was with the Senators' third line during practice Thursday and appears poised to be part of Ottawa's lineup for Game 2 of the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I'm pretty excited, that's for sure, and very happy to have a chance to play again and be part of the team," Latendresse said.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 2:13 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Gryba not practicing with Senators

Based on practice pairings Thursday, it appears defenseman Andre Benoit will replace Eric Gryba in the Ottawa Senators' lineup when the team's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins resumes Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Gryba left Game 1 of the series Tuesday with an upper-body injury after sustaining a hit from the Penguins' Brooks Orpik.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 4:55 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Bylsma pleased by Penguins setting physical tone

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Bylsma doesn't buy the NHL stats that say his Pittsburgh Penguins significantly out-hit the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.

The League's official stat sheet said Pittsburgh enjoyed a 40-26 advantage in hits in Game 1. It's not that Bylsma doesn't believe the disparity, he just doesn't care about what the Senators did. Wednesday, Bylsma said his team keeps its own stats on the checks delivered by the Penguins but don't track hits by the opposition.

He added that the numbers don't matter in the end. It is more about the tone set -- and he liked the tone his team set with its physical bite in Game 1.

"I think we had significantly more hits in first period than the rest of the game," Bylsma said. "I kind of like how we came out and played on our toes in the first, and played in the offensive zone and were at least able to get to our game -- especially in the first half of that period."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 4:27 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

With extra off day between games, Penguins rest up

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't do much on Wednesday, the morning after a convincing 4-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The players who did not play in the game -- the Black Aces -- took part in a short, but crisp practice. They were joined by defenseman Deryk Engelland, who returned to the defensive rotation in Game 1, and Craig Adams, the fourth-line center. Evgeni Malkin also took a quick twirl, but did not wear full pads.

However, that doesn't mean the Penguins didn't get anything done.

Most importantly, said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, the team got a chance to rest a bit by staying off the ice. Instead, the team met in the morning, watched a little video and talked about points they want to stress in Game 2 on Friday.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 3:59 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators have options on defense if Gryba can't go

PITTSBURGH -- While not flatly ruling hulking defenseman Eric Grybe out for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators coach coach Paul MacLean said the team has contingency plans for who might take Gryba's place.

"If Gryba's not available, [Mike] Lundin and [Andre] Benoit are here with us," MacLean said after an optional practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. "[Patrick] Wiercioch, right now, I'd say is not available with a lower-body injury, but we'll have discussions on that."

Gryba left the ice after a collision with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik late during the second period of Pittsburgh's 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday. The Senators said he has an upper-body injury that will be evaluated.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 3:01 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators' Spezza ruled out for Game 2

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean on Wednesday said center Jason Spezza would not play in Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Spezza has not played since having back surgery Feb. 1 to repair a herniated disc but has been skating with the team's extra players since May 10.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators to focus on their strengths

PITTSBURGH -- The raw numbers are striking -- and strikingly simple.

The Pittsburgh Penguins led the NHL in goals during the regular season; the Ottawa Senators were the Eastern Conference's best team at preventing them.

So the seventh-seeded Senators know what style of play they will turn to in hopes of succeeding in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 1 is Tuesday ((7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN) here at Consol Energy Center.

"Giving them odd-man rushes, with their skill, is not going to work to our favor," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "So we want to play a disciplined game -- but also not just play a passive game. We want to get engaged and get the forecheck going. That's how we're going to generate our chances."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Kennedy, Vitale staying in Penguins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Kennedy will be keeping his spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup when the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators opens Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said it's not just because of Kennedy's inspired play late in the previous round, either.

During the morning skate in advance of Game 1 Tuesday, Pittsburgh showed the same line combinations and defense pairings it did during practice Monday. That means the only apparent change from the lineup Bylsma employed for victories in Games 5 and 6 of the first-round win against the New York Islanders is Deryk Engelland in for Simon Despres on defense.

"It's not just what happened in the first round for our team and the players who played in the first round when it comes to our lineup and the decisions we make," Bylsma said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Vokoun starting in goal for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The man at the forefront might have been the only person explicitly and formally informed of a decision from Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma that everyone awaited.

Tomas Vokoun informed reporters Tuesday morning that he would be the team's starting goaltender against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

"I'm not surprised," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He played really well in what was a tough situation to come into like he did last series. He came in after having not played in a while and shut the door."

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Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins, Cooke solely focused on winning

PITTSBURGH -- If people still are talking about a feud between the Ottawa Senators and Matt Cooke, no one in the Pittsburgh Penguins' locker room is.

With the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the teams starting Tuesday, issues surrounding Cooke and the Senators -- Cooke is blamed for the Achilles injury that sidelined Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson for more than two months -- have become an afterthought among the players.

"That's all outside the locker room," Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said. "It's media, it's Twitter, it's Facebook. It's not stuff that [concerns us]."

"The off-ice stuff and accusations and that stuff, it does not play into the series for our team," added Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "We're definitely not going to make it a part of the series for our team. Whether there's emotion there on their side -- I don't think so. I think they'll be focused on winning four hockey games."

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Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 1:32 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza not traveling with Senators

The Ottawa Senators announced Monday that center Jason Spezza would not travel with the team to for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, instead remaining in Ottawa ton continue his rehabilitation from back surgery.

Spezza had surgery Feb. 1 to repair a herniated disc. On May 10 he began skating with the team's "black aces," its extra players, with the hope that he could return to the team at some point in the series.

In five games this season, Spezza had two goals and three assists. His last game was Jan. 27.

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Quote of the Day

With this being the last year [at the Coliseum], we'd love to try to get back to the dance like we did against Pittsburgh and prove ourselves and go even further. It's an important year.

— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano