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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 Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 11:15 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Playing safe could end up costing Rangers

The Marian Gaborik trade has really helped the New York Rangers. Gaborik is a premier player and a huge goal scorer, but right now based on the way the Rangers play -- and I'm going to get into that more in a little bit -- the trade has really helped them.

They were short on depth. They have some star players, but the Rangers had lost a lot of their depth up front. Those guys [they got for Gaborik] have come in and played exceptionally well, particularly Derick Brassard. He has been really good for the Rangers, and has helped slot guys in and given them some of the depth they lost when they made the Rick Nash trade.

They did that trade at the expense of their depth, and then Brandon Prust didn't re-sign, Ruslan Fedotenko, who was a good player for them, left, they traded Mike Rupp -- they had some depth on the third and fourth lines last year that they didn't have this year.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 9:20 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Havlat in Sharks lineup for Game 3

SAN JOSE -- Just minutes after the San Jose Sharks' morning skate ended Saturday, coach Todd McLellan got the news he had been waiting for regarding injured forward Martin Havlat.

"He came to see me and said he's ready to go," McLellan said. "So we'll find a spot for him."

The Sharks trailed the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in their Western Conference Semifinal series heading into Game 3 Saturday (NBCSN, TSN, RDS). With Havlat back in the lineup, the Sharks' lines have a new look at HP Pavilion.

Havlat had been out with a lower-body injury since midway through the first period of Game 1 of the Sharks' Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks.

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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 Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 6:22 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Miller feels good in return to Red Wings lineup

CHICAGO -- Drew Miller didn't score a goal, didn't record a point, and played 12:07 for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at United Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks, but he had an impact in his return from a broken bone in his finger.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 6:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Penalty kill, Kane's goal positives for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- One of the bright spots for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal loss to the Detroit Red Wings was their penalty kill, which remains perfect through seven games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite losing 4-1 at United Center, Chicago went 4-for-4 killing penalties and upped its string of consecutive kills to 24.

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Quote of the Day

I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday