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.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma liked how his team got off to a quick start in each of the first two games, but he said he was slightly concerned with how Ottawa was able to generate opportunities by coming out of their own end with speed and catching Pittsburgh a little off guard.
He said the Penguins will need to be more aware of the quick-strike ability, particularly the third forward in the offensive zone so he can help slow down the Senators' rush.
If anything, the speed with which the Senators attack Sunday should be intensified with the return of top center Jason Spezza and the desperation Crosby was referring to with the possibility of an 0-3 deficit staring Ottawa in the face.
“You’re up 2-0, so you’re obviously where you want to be after two games,” Pittsburgh forward Pascal Dupuis said. “But at the same time we know they’re a good team that’s going to battle hard and feed off their crowd for Game 3 here at home. We expect that from them. It should be a good battle.”
When one team gets out to a big lead in any Stanley Cup Playoff series, the challenge becomes manufacturing the same level of intensity that the desperation of the opponent can produce. However, Letang said he doesn’t feel it needs to be manufactured at all.
“I think we’re desperate as well,” he said. “We want to win the series as quick as possible.”