OTTAWA -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs can give birth to unexpected heroes. In the case of the Ottawa Senators, those special players have come in the form of their fourth line, consisting of Colin Greening, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Erik Condra.
Condra and Greening, each in their third season with the Senators, have joined the rookie Pageau as an integral part of Ottawa's youth movement and its success in the postseason.
"That line -- in the eight games that we've played so far -- has consistently been our best line in the playoffs," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "Game to game, shift to shift, they've been extremely important to us. Not only 5-on-5, but they also contribute killing penalties. They play very important minutes for us."
Greening, who has a goal in three consecutive games, was the hero in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His tipped puck flew past goaltender Tomas Vokoun at 7:39 of double-overtime to give the Senators a 2-1 victory. The win breathed new life into Senators, who were down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.
However, the moment has passed for Greening, and he and his teammates are looking forward to Game 4 on Wednesday at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"My old coach [Kurt Kleinendorst of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators] used to say, 'You can only enjoy it until your head hits the pillow. Then it's time to move on,'" Greening said.
MacLean said, "[Greening] is very consistent. When you get into the playoffs, a lot of time it's a big-man's game, and he's playing like a big man. He's very determined. I don't know if it gives him an edge or not, but in the playoffs it's a different time. A lot of guys make their careers in the playoffs and are known as playoff performers. I don't know if [Greening] is doing that yet -- we'll see by the end of the playoffs. But he's certainly stepped up so far."
The 6-foot-2, 217-pound forward has served as a perfect complement to 5-9 Pageau, whose sense of the game, even at the age of 20, has impressed his new coach. Though small in stature, Pageau has made his presence known in the postseason. During Game 3 of the Senators' first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, Pageau's hat trick sparked a jubilant response from fans at Scotiabank Place, where the faithful chanted the center's name.
"We'd like to think he's got a lot of growth to go," MacLean said. "He certainly knows his way around the rink. Right now, for what we need him to be -- in that [fourth] line and in that penalty-killing role -- he's excelled at it. If he can just keep doing that, he can have a pretty nice career. He has a really good sense of where he is [on the ice] and who is around him."
Pageau said of hsi linemates, "We're pretty good friends off the ice. We get along well -- sometimes it's hard to communicate because of my broken English. But we're getting better and we like to play together. We just like to go all-out and give everything we have. And good things happen when we do that."
Condra said though their line may not score points for artistry, their willingness to play a straightforward game has made them effective.
"We've just been trying to keep it simple," Condra said. "[Greening and Pageau] are both great players; they're smart and always in the right spots. That's what's led to our success. We're not the prettiest line, but we get things done.
"The whole 'Pesky Sens' thing? Yeah, it applies to us. We just keep coming at you and we won't stop. Thankfully, it's been working for us."
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