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Penguins vs Senators

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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