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Penguins vs. Senators blog
Adam Kimelman takes you behind the scenes and keeps you up to speed on everything this 4-5 matchup has to offer.

A first for Sid
4.24.2010 / 9:17 p.m. ET

Sidney Crosby actually did something wrong -- well kind of. He was on the ice for Matt Cullen's game-opening goal 5:19 into the first period of Saturday night's Game 6 against Ottawa, the first time that's happened in this series.

Before Cullen scored on a breakaway to give the Senators the early lead, Crosby had been on ice for 14 Pittsburgh goals, but the Senators hadn't scored with him on the ice. When Crosby wasn't on the ice, Ottawa had scored 16 times and allowed 6 goals.

Crosby was on the ice again 1:51 into the second period for Chris Neil's goal and when Daniel Alfredsson scored at 9:48 of the second period to make it 3-0. In fact, the Penguins had the same six players -- goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Kris Letang and Mark Eaton, and forwards Crosby, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz -- on the ice for all three Ottawa goals.

­--John Kreiser


Fedotenko scratched
4.24.2010 / 6:59 p.m. ET

The return of Ruslan Fedotenko to the Pittsburgh lineup was short-lived.

Fedotenko was scratched for Saturday night’s Game 6, replaced by call-up Chris Conner. Fedotenko had returned to the Pittsburgh lineup in Game 5, but was ineffective in almost 20 minutes of game action in Thursday’s triple-OT loss to the Ottawa Senators that forced Saturday night’s Game 6.

Fedotenko did not play in Games 2, 3 or 4 despite having a Stanley Cup-winning goal to his credit during his time with Tampa Bay. He also had 14 points in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games during Pittsburgh’s run to the title last season.

But Bylsma decided to go with a faster, but smaller, player in Conner, who is just 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds. Saturday morning, Bylsma said he really liked Conner’s ability to use his speed to generate chances, as well as his willingness to work effectively in the corners of the offensive zone.

Conner played eight regular-season games with Pittsburgh this season, scoring two goals. Both goals came in a Jan. 25 game against the New York Rangers. Conner had 19 goals and 56 points in 59 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this regular season. He added four points in four playoff games with the Baby Pens before his call-up on Friday.

Ottawa went with the same lineup -- and same lines -- as in Thursday’s Game 5 victory.
 
-- Shawn P. Roarke

Morning skate report
4.24.2010 / 1:35 p.m. ET

Cory Clouston's Ottawa Senators showed a ton of heart and chemistry in surviving Pittsburgh's fightback in Game 5 to take a 4-3 decision in three overtimes to stay alive in this series. In fact, he liked what he saw so much that he plans on making no chances for Saturday night's Game 6 at Scotiabank Place.

Not only will he not make changes, but he will likely stick with the lines he used in Game 5, hoping to capture the same chemistry he had 48 hours ago.

That means that Jason Spezza will stay with Peter Regin and Nick Foligno, while Daniel Alfredsson will skate with Matt Cullen and Mike Fisher in what Clouston believes gives his team the best possibility of forming an effective 1-2 punch in the offensive zone. Chris Kelly will continue to center agitators Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu on the third line and Shean Donovan will remain in the lineup, playing with Jesse Winchester and Zach Smith.

Saturday morning, Clouston talked about how he arrived at those effective combinations in Game 5.

"A lot of it has to do with if it is broke, fix it," Clouston said. 

In doing so, he found the right mix of offense and defense and caused Pittsburgh as many matchup problems as it has had in this series.

So, will Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma counter with some moves of his own?

Bylsma said Saturday that he has made minor adjustments throughout the series. One of those adjustments is trying to stop Ottawa's defense from jumping into the play. The Penguins were bad at that in Game 1 and lost, but improved in the next three games. Bylsma believes his team regressed a bit in that area Thursday night and wants to see improvement in Game 6.

He also has not ruled out lineup changes. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy was called up last week when Jordan Leopold was injured. Lovejoy has not played yet, but there was some speculation he might see action Saturday night. More likely, though, is the insertion of forward Chris Conner into the lineup. Conner was called up Friday from the minors and is another offensive weapon Bylsma has at his disposal.

Saturday morning, Bylsma said Conner would take part in this evening's pre-game warmups, but any lineup changes would be "game-time decisions."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Pens changing lines
4.22.2010 / 12:43 p.m. ET

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn't make any formal announcements, but with Tyler Kennedy not skating for a second straight day, it's doubtful he's in the lineup for Game 5 against the Senators tonight. Kennedy played less than four minutes in Game 4, and none after being crunched into the wall by Ottawa's Andy Sutton early in the second period. He appeared to be favoring his right left as he skated off after the hit, and the Pens have announced Kennedy has a lower-body injury.

In Kennedy's place, Ruslan Fedotenko -- who has been a healthy scratch the last three games -- skated with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke. The Pens' other lines remained unchanged since Game 2, with Sidney Crosby centering Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz; Evgeni Malkin between Alexei Ponikarovsky and Pascal Dupuis, and Maxime Talbot with Mike Rupp and Craig Adams.

One other note courtesy Sam Kasan of the Penguins' Web site -- since 1991, the Pens are 10-4 at home when they've had the chance to end a series.

-- Adam Kimelman

Leclaire in goal
4.22.2010 / 12:24 p.m. ET

The Ottawa Senators just announced that Pascal Leclaire will start in goal tonight in the pivotal Game 5 of their first-round series with the Penguins. Brian Elliott had started the first four games, but he was yanked in the second period of Game 4 after Sidney Crosby scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-0.

Leclaire stopped 20 of 23 shots in what became a 7-4 defeat. It was Leclaire's first Stanley Cup Playoff game. 

-- Adam Kimelman

Sens standing by their man
4.21.2010 / 11:43 a.m. ET

No one in the Ottawa locker room was blaming goalie Brian Elliott for allowing four goals on 19 shots in the first period and a half. He was pulled in favor of Pascal Leclaire after Sidney Crosby's second goal of the night 6:12 into the second period made it 4-0.

"We're in it together," center Mike Fisher said. "We have to help him out more. I mean, they are getting breakaways and point-blank chances. We have to help him out. It's a group effort."

"We hung him out to dry a little bit in the second period," added captain Daniel Alfredsson. "There were too many odd-man rushes and we made it hard for him. We didn't stick with it like we did in the previous games."

Will coach Cory Clouston come back with Elliott for Game 5 on Thursday? Elliott did play well in the Senators' lone win in the series, in Game 1 at Mellon Arena. Or will he opt for Leclaire, who stopped 20 of 23 shots?

We'll have to wait for Thursday to find out.

-- Adam Kimelman

No update on Kennedy
4.20.2010 / 11:28 p.m. ET

Tyler Kennedy limped off the ice just 1:51 into the second period and didn't return. He was hit hard into the boards by Ottawa's Andy Sutton and appeared to be favoring his right leg.

Coach Dan Bylsma had no updates after the game, saying the forward would be re-evaluated when the team got back to Pittsburgh.

-- Adam Kimelman

A wild one
4.20.2010 / 9:08 p.m. ET

The goals keep coming and coming …

A wild second period saw eight pucks find their way into the nets. Sidney Crosby had a pair plus an assist. The prettiest of the scoring spree had to come from a couple of fourth-liners, when Craig Adams flipped a pretty backhand pass off the rush to a cutting Maxime Talbot, who tipped it past Pascal Leclaire at 12:38 of the period that made it 5-2.

Crosby's helper on Kunitz's goal also was a nice one, as he stayed on the puck after Leclaire blocked his tip attempt and fed it back to Kunitz for the final goal of the period.

That gives Crosby 11 points in 11 periods of playoff action. Just amazing.

It's nice to see Daniel Alfredsson get on the board with a nice goal, plus an assist on Matt Cullen's power-play goal. He's been working hard, but just has been unlucky on his chances.

One more period of action to go.

-- Adam Kimelman


1-0 after one period
4.20.2010 / 7:50 p.m. ET

Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal looked just like the pair he scored in Game 1 back in Pittsburgh -- rockets from the right circle through screens.

The Senators talked in the morning about having to come out fast and furious, get the crowd into it. They got the first three shots of the game -- and then went a whopping 11:59 without a shot.

Ottawa is also bringing the wood. Mike Fisher creamed Kris Letang in the Pittsburgh end early in the period, and Andy Sutton decked Maxime Talbot half into his own bench a few minutes later.

More after the second period.

-- Adam Kimelman


No Alfie? No problem
4.20.2010 / 1:50 p.m. ET

Daniel Alfredsson skipped the morning skate, but Senators fans shouldn't panic -- the captain is fine. It's just a matter of a 37-year-old conserving his energy for when it really matters.

The fact that Shean Donovan skated in Alfredsson's place shouldn't cause alarm bells to ring in the nation's capital. He'll be in his customary place when Game 4 starts.

"He's fine," said linemate Jason Spezza. "He's just resting. He's played a lot of hockey this year. He's played a lot of minutes for us. He talked about after getting home from the Olympics that he wasn't going to practice much. More gets made of it because it's the playoffs, but he feels pretty good."

-- Adam Kimelman

Jordan one-ups the family
4.20.2010 / 1:39 p.m. ET

Jordan Staal has a chance to move into the lead in size of family trophy case. There's a chance he'll be able to add a Selke Trophy to the Stanley Cup he won last year. He's the first of the three NHL-playing brothers to be a finalist for an individual award.

"It's always nice to try to one-up your brothers and have a great season," Staal said after practice. "I'm sure they're proud of me. I'm just really happy with it."

Teammates and coaches were effusive in their praise for Staal, especially Tyler Kennedy, Staal's roommate and linemate.

"It's nice for him to be recognized for his  play on both sides of the rink," said Kennedy.

With the NHL Award Show again in Las Vegas, Kennedy was asked if Staal would be bringing him along for the party.

"He better ask me to go to Vegas with him," Kennedy joked. "Or he'll lose."

-- Adam Kimelman

Senators lines
4.20.2010 / 11:10 a.m. ET

Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said yesterday he was considering switching up his forward lines, but it's hard to tell much from this morning's practice.

Shean Donovan is skating with Jason Spezza and Peter Regin, but that's more because of Daniel Alfredsson skipping the skate.

Jonathan Cheechoo, another possibility tonight, took some rushes on the fourth line, alternating with Ryan Shannon on rushes with Zack Smith and Jesse Winchester.

I'll have more after the skate.

-- Adam Kimelman

Living in fear
4.19.2010 / 3:23 p.m. ET

Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza may not have made much impact on the score sheet the first three games, but that doesn't mean the Penguins aren't worried about the all-star scorers.

"I fear those guys when they're on the ice, I fear when they've had shots," said Pens coach Dan Bylsma. "Alfredsson had a great chance in Game 2, Spezza had a great chance in Game 2 where he just misses the net or we get a stick on it. Could be the difference. They again had those opportunities last night to score goals and give their team either a tie or give them a lead when it was 1-1. They had that great shift before the Malkin goal, the one-timers in the slot, those are great opportunities, those are opportunities they worked for, they had a couple great shifts. I still think they're guys we have to limit what they're doing on the ice right now, at five-on-five and on the power play."

Alfredsson a day later still was regretting the missed chances he had.

"We had some really good chances to take the lead and they just go down and score right after it," the Ottawa captain said. "Felt we played pretty good. Some areas we need to be better. We don't need to do any major changes. Tomorrow is a big game. If we win tomorrow we're right back in it. If we lose we've dug ourselves a deep hole. We look for tomorrow's game for our chance to gain momentum in the series and go from there."

Could Alfredsson and Spezza be pressuring themselves to equal Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the goal column?

"I'm sure there's a little bit of added pressure," said Senators coach Cory Clouston. "We're not expecting them to match that. We're trying to do this as a team. That's the only way we're going to have success, to have more of a balanced attack. We had it in Game 1, but we haven't had it since. It's not a competition between Spezza and Alfredsson against Malkin and Crosby. It isn't. We've got to make it more of a team emphasis. For us, anyway."

-- Adam Kimelman

Lineups and goaltenders
4.19.2010 / 3:16 p.m. ET

Senators coach Cory Clouston never reveals much in his press conferences, but today he did say he was pondering a few changes to his forward group heading into Game 3 tomorrow.

Shean Donovan has played just once since March 11 and has been a healthy scratch in all three games, but he could get into the lineup for Game 4.

"He's got experience, and he's a big body," Clouston said of the 6-foot-3, 218-pound right wing.

Another player who could make an appearance is Jonathan Cheechoo. The former 50-goal scorer was waived and sent to the AHL on Feb. 12. He was recalled for the playoffs and has been skating after practice. In 61 games before his demotion, he had just 5 goals, 14 points and a minus-13 rating.

"At one time he was a very prolific goal scorer," said Clouston. "We saw glimpses of that this year. He's a competitor. He's an intelligent player. If you're asking me if he's playing tomorrow I won't answer that until tomorrow."

Clouston also said he wasn't worried at all about goaltender Brian Elliott. The rookie has the lowest save percentage in the playoffs at .868.

"We're not really worried too much about numbers," said Clouston. "I know you can skew them anyway you want. I'm sure if you ask him he knows he's got to make a few more saves here and there. We're worried about tomorrow night. I'm not worried about his numbers. To me, you can have a great game that could skew it the other way. You've only played two, three games early on, and whether it's the regular season or the playoffs, with numbers you need more time to get a better, accurate read on them."

Clouston believes his goalie is ready for a bounce-back performance tomorrow.

"He's a guy that's always had really good bounce-back games if he hasn't had a good performance," said Clouston. "He's a competitor and he's been there for us this season. When he's had ups and downs he's been able to respond very well."

-- Adam Kimelman

No love for The Kid
4.18.2010 / 7:12 p.m. ET

Sidney Crosby was asked this morning if he thought his golden goal at the Olympics in February would earn him some slack from a pro-Senator crowd in Ottawa.

"I don't think it'll make a difference," he said with a laugh. "I don't expect (any love). Nothing."

Good thing his expectations were low, because he's getting booed vociferously every time he touches the puck.

Speaking of odd fan behavior, have you caught the Green Man act in Vancouver? Well, now they have them in Ottawa, except they're red, and they're not right next to the visiting penalty box. Still entertaining, though.

-- Adam Kimelman

Spezza: I wouldn't change a thing

4.18.2010 / 12:55 p.m. ET

Jason Spezza has had a chance to watch Sidney Crosby's remarkable play to set up Kris Letang's game-winning goal in Game 2. So would he change anything?

"I'd play it the same way again," he said. "He doesn't score the goal. He's falling over and makes the pass and Letang scores on a seeing-eye shot. If he beats me to the net and scores, then obviously there's a different way to play it, but I did a pretty good job keeping him to the outside."

Watch for yourself here
and see if you agree with Spezza. Outside of tackling Crosby and taking a penalty, there really wasn't much else for him to do.

"We play it pretty good," Spezza said. "We kept him to the outside, we're all surrounding the net, we're not giving them much offensively there, we're covering the guys in the slot. Letang makes a nice shot, goes through a couple guys and Els (Brian Elliott) doesn't see it.

"They didn't have much there. You don't want to say they got lucky because it was a good shot to get it through, but the odds of that making it through three bodies again are pretty slim."

-- Adam Kimelman

McKee jumping in; Johnson, Leopold updates
4.18.2010 / 12:47 p.m. ET

Jay McKee is no stranger to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and tonight will mark the eighth time in 14 NHL seasons he's skated in the playoffs.

And playing in Ottawa is a familiar site for him, as he played his first 10 seasons with Northeast Division rival Buffalo.

"Ottawa is a team I've played the most against in my career, having been in Buffalo for 10 years," McKee told NHL.com following this morning's skate. "This is an arena I feel comfortable in."

McKee watched the first two games, but with Jordan Leopold back in Pittsburgh healing from the monster hit he absorbed from Ottawa's Andy Sutton in Game 2, the 32-year-old veteran is getting his shot.

"This is the time of year everybody wants to play," said McKee. "The fact that we're pretty deep in defense, somebody has to sit when everyone's healthy and it was me. I worked hard when I was watching and I'm ready to go."

McKee said jumping in mid-stream won't make things any different for him.

"When I was younger I might have been a little more anxious and nervous at the start, but as you get older you learn how to control your emotions better," he said. "I don't think it'll be any different missing the first two games and starting now. It won't have any effect."

Speaking of Leopold, coach Dan Bylsma gave a brief update on the defenseman: "Jordan did not come on the trip with us. He stayed back in Pittsburgh for further evaluation. Didn't see he'd be playing these two games, so he didn't come with us."

The only other Pittsburgh player with a health issue is backup goalie Brent Johnson. Johnson made the trip to Ottawa, but Bylsma said he's not quite all the way back from the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of Game 2, and he won't be available for Game 3. Brad Thiessen, who backed up Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 2, again will serve as the backup tonight. All three goalies were on the ice this morning, and Bylsma hopes to have Johnson as the insurance policy for Game 4 on Tuesday.

-- Adam Kimelman

Same old Senators

4.18.2010 / 11:45 a.m. ET

Everyone is on the ice for the Senators today, and their lines look to be the same as they were for Game 2:

Regin-Spezza-Alfredsson
Foligno-Fisher-Cullen
Neil-Kelly-Ruutu
Shannon-Smith-Winchester

On defense Brian Lee is getting some extra time with the top six as Anton Volchenkov is taking it a bit easy today.

Let's get physical
4.17.2010 / 8:18 p.m. ET

A day later, people still are talking about the big hit Ottawa's Andy Sutton laid on Pittsburgh's Jordan Leopold. Leopold won't play in Game 3, and likely will be sidelined longer.

Maxime Talbot said he and his teammates wouldn't be targeting Sutton or any other Senator, and the goal is to win the game, not seek vengeance. But it's clear both teams are ready for some nasty, physical hockey.

"Obviously the best revenge that we can have is to win the game," Talbot told the team's Web site. "We always use the mentality of a pack of wolves in the dressing room, so whatever happens, I'm sure we'll be there. But the most important thing is to win some hockey games."

Senators coach Cory Clouston said he felt bad Leopold was hurt, but he again said he thought Sutton's first-period hit was a clean, hard hockey hit -- and the kind of play he'd like to see from the rest of his team.

"We need him to do more of that," Clouston said of Sutton. "We need more guys to play physical. You never like to see a player hurt, but when you look at that play from four or five different angles, there were a lot of reasons why they were in that position. Nick Foligno is putting on backside pressure, he (Leopold) had his head down. Andy's a big man, he's 6-foot-5. If you have your head down it's going to be a target. Not easy to avoid that. His (Sutton's) arm was tight as could be to the body, his elbow wasn't stuck out. It's playoff hockey -- they're finishing their checks on us, we're going to do the same."

-- Adam Kimelman

Moving up to Ottawa
4.17.2010 / 6:27 p.m. ET

Well, after a long day of travel -- I'll spare you details -- I've arrived in Ottawa. So have the Penguins, who flew in this afternoon after practicing at Mellon Arena this morning.

One player missing from the practice was defenseman Jordan Leopold, who still is suffering from the big hit he absorbed from Ottawa's Andy Sutton on Friday. It looks like Leopold will at least miss Game 3 here on Sunday, and Tuesday's Game 4 also is doubtful.

When asked for an update on his player's condition, coach Dan Bylsma told the team's Web site that he really didn't have anything new to add. "He did not come in," he said of Leopold. "He will be re-evaluated today. He is definitely going to be day-to-day and will not be on the ice (Saturday) or (Sunday)."

That opens the door for veteran Jay McKee to get into the lineup. The Pens also recalled defenseman Ben Lovejoy from their AHL team, but it's almost a certainly that McKee plays in Game 3.

The 32-year-old 14-year veteran is no stranger to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with 55 games under his belt with the Sabres and Blues. In 62 games with the Penguins this season, he had 10 points and 54 penalty minutes.

His entry into the lineup also gives the Pens another physical presence on the blue line, and he's always been regarded as a top-notch penalty killer.

"Not only has he been a big part of our defense the whole year long, just the number of games he has played and the experience he has in these types of situations is something we have already drawn from him," Bylsma said. "He will have to draw upon it when he gets in there."

"You prepare all summer and all season long to get into the playoffs," McKee told the team's Web site. "You don't want to see your teammates get hurt like that, but it opens up a spot for me. I came here for this opportunity, so it is a good feeling."

McKee said he expects to play with Alex Goligoski, who he was paired with to start the season.

-- Adam Kimelman

Leopold out for game
4.16.2010 / 8:08 p.m. ET

According to the Penguins' PR staff, defenseman Jordan Leopold will not return following the hard hit to the head he suffered on a hit by Ottawa's Andy Sutton with 2:45 left in the first period.

-- Adam Kimelman


Crazy end to period
4.16.2010 / 7:55 p.m. ET

Well, the hate that the players were talking about building in the series certainly has reared its head.

Andy Sutton leveled Pittsburgh's Jordan Leopold with 2:45 left in the first period. At first glance the hit looked bad, but while rough, it was clean, as the hit was ruled as being a north-south collision, Sutton never left his feet and had his elbow tucked into his body at the point of contact.

The venom ramped up as the period came to an end, with Ottawa's Zack Smith and Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot dropping the gloves after the final whistle.

Before that, the crowd was pretty quiet for most of the first half of the period, after Peter Regin's goal on the opening shift gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the period.

Sidney Crosby's power-play goal woke the fans up when he banged in the rebound of a Chris Kunitz shot at 8:45.

We'll see when the teams come back for the second if the anger returns with them.

-- Adam Kimelman


Johnson out
4.16.2010 / 6:50 p.m. ET

The flu-like symptoms Penguins backup goalie Brent Johnson have been suffering from will sideline him for Game 2 tonight. Brad Thiessen, who was called up from AHL Wilkes/Barre-Scranton yesterday, will serve as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury tonight.

-- Adam Kimelman


Sounds from the morning of Game 2
4.16.2010 / 2:30 p.m. ET

Here's a few snippets from this morning's media availabilities with coaches and players heading into Game 2 tonight:

Cory Clouston, on what he thinks he'll see from the Penguins tonight: "I think they're going to elevate their game. I don't think they're going to change it a whole lot. At this time of year if you're starting to re-vamp your system or re-vamp what you're doing, you're going to be a in a lot of trouble. We expect them to play a pretty similar game, just maybe a little more intense. I think they're going to try to get pucks in a little deeper on us, put some pressure on our defense."

Clouston, on if he's surprised by how close every playoff game has been so far: "The League's very close. The regular season is important, but it's a much different game in the playoffs. You've got to take it a game at a time. Just because you're first place or eighth place doesn't mean you can't win a game -- or a series."

Dan Bylsma, on how getting his team back on track begins in the defensive zone: "Puck retrieval, coming out of the (defensive) zone, and the mentality with which we execute are all things we need to get better focus on. Sometimes slowing it down and going back, while it makes you feel better, it doesn't put the other team in jeopardy. We need to make sure our mentality and puck retrievals coming out of the (defensive) zone is north with speed and puck support and neutral-zone transition is north with speed."

Bylsma, on the play of his third line vs. Ottawa's third line: "I don't think the goal for our third line is to go out-produce (Jarkko) Ruutu, (Chris) Kelly and (Chris) Neil. Our third line (Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy) sees a lot of time against (Jason) Spezza's line, so it's not a head-to-head matchup. The Staal line was probably our best line in the offensive zone and playing there, and spending offensive-zone shifts there. We talked a little bit about what they can do better. I talked to Jordan toady and part of it is how we shoot the puck. We shot the puck wide of the net a lot and that got pucks out for them. We had four on the rush and it allowed them the Ruutu goal as an example of that. That's something we can do better and a focus for that line in particular. That line needs to continue to get to the offensive zone and work on their defense and work on the Spezza line, the (Daniel) Alfredsson line, to make them play in the defensive zone. That's what they're best at."

Sidney Crosby, on if he's surprised Washington lost Game 1 of its series to Montreal last night: "No. It's the playoffs. There's always favorites and things like that, but it's one game. A lot can happen in one game. It's a team that's able to be consistent, a team that's able to adjust. It's one game. You've got to win four. It's not easy to do that. Good teams lose in the playoffs only if it's Game 1. It happens."

Crosby, on Maxime Talbot's impact in the series: "He's cut out to play in the playoffs; he's that type of player. He raises his game, he's prepared to battle. That's what you need to do in the playoffs -- everyone needs to raise their game, and he's one of the guys that's done that. He's proven the last few years he can do that. That's asked from everybody, but he's certainly been able to do it."

Jarkko Ruutu, on series momentum: "It's a game-by-game thing. Win or lose, you can't look (to the) past, you look ahead. You have to be on an even keel the whole series. Whoever gets the first four wins is going to win the series."

Chris Kelly, on the Senators' penalty kill: "The plan is always good. We do well killing penalties. Just maybe we gave him (Evgeni Malkin) a little more time than we would have liked. We know that now. We addressed that as the game went on. Toward the latter half of the game we took that away more. I think we're pretty confident going into tonight's game."

-- Adam Kimelman
Rupp should be ready
4.16.2010 / 2:11 p.m. ET

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn't come right out and say it, but for the second day in a row he talked about what the 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward could bring to the team in Game 2.

"Mike Rupp, when he's playing his best game, you see down the hit column and he's got five hits and he's a factor on the forecheck, and I wouldn't call Mike Rupp a slow player," Bylsma said following Friday's morning skate. "When he gets the chance to play for us, he's going to be counted on to be a factor in the offensive zone, along the wall. They're a team that plays and pinches along the walls and his body, his size on the forecheck, can be a real factor and presence against this defense."

One of Bylsma's chief complaints about his team in Game 1 was a failure to get pucks into the offensive end and be physical with the Senators' defense. He certainly believes Rupp can bring that to the equation.

"He's created offensive-zone time, big hits, being that guy with speed in the neutral zone when pucks get behind the defense and then crashing in there and being a big body," said Bylsma. "That's what Mike Rupp does well, and certainly can add to our team."

Expect Ruslan Fedotenko to be the odd forward out tonight. Fedotenko had just 11 goals in 80 games this season, and while he had five hits in Game 1, he played just 10:40 and did not have a shot.

-- Adam Kimelman

Rusty out?
4.16.2010 / 10:50 a.m. ET

It looks like Ruslan Fedotenko could be a healthy scratch tonight for Game 2.

Coach Dan Bylsma talked yesterday about how Rupp's size and speed through the neutral zone could help the Pens get into their game -- getting pucks in behind the other team's defense and following with a strong, physical forecheck.

Rupp skated again with Maxime Talbot and Craig Adams.

Other lines saw Sidney Crosby centering Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin between Alexei Ponikarovsky and Pascal Dupuis, and Jordan Staal with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

-- Adam Kimelman

A good hate going
4.16.2010 / 10:16 a.m. ET

The Penguins and Senators didn't play between Jan. 28 and Game 1 of their quarterfinal playoff series, but it didn't take long for the rivalry to resume.

Remember, this is the third time in four years these teams have met in the playoffs. And as Ottawa's Jason Spezza pointed out, it's the fourth time in five years going back to the 2005 AHL playoffs.

So it was easy for players on both sides to remember how much they dislike each other.

"I think it (the hate) always builds throughout the series," Spezza said. "There's more and more emotions that get run in. We play each other so much. That's the fun part of the playoffs, how you play the same team over and over."

"We have a history with them in the playoffs, and I don't think that element of not liking them wasn't there maybe enough because of the long periods since we've played them," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "That's definitely there now."

Coach Dan Bylsma hopes the hate fuels his team going into Game 2 tonight.

"I think the desperation level and the urgency level, they were better in that department (in Game 1) and they played exactly how we expected," said Bylsma. "Them beating us in our building in Game 1, that hatred and desperation better be enough right now to bring to Game 2 and be ready to get to our game. I think if we didn't have it, we should have it right now with how they played against us."

Senators GM Bryan Murray, though, tried to ratchet down the "hate" element.

"We're playing a game," he said. "Hatred is a little bit strong. It's great for you guys in the media to write about and ask the players about. I think we're competitors. Sidney is a competitor. We're strong competitors, with some emotion that will be ramped up a little bit. To go to the extreme of hate … I think they're all part of a union, and they'll all vote together at some point in time for a new leader. I can't imagine that (hate) is the right word."

But like Murray said, it's certainly fun to talk about.

-- Adam Kimelman

Who was that masked man?
4.15.2010 / 3:29 p.m. ET

With Penguins goalie Brent Johnson suffering from flu-like symptoms, the Penguins had to scramble for a second goalie for practice this morning.

The answer: Jim Britt, the team's video coordinator.

Johnson was at Mellon Arena for a bit today -- though not in uniform -- and it's certain he'll be on the bench for Game 2 Friday, backing up Marc-Andre Fleury.

But here's a thought -- last year, much was made in Washington of the Caps using one of their Web site video people, Brett Leonhardt, as a fill-in goalie. If the Pens and Caps play again in the postseason, could we see a Britt-Leonhardt match?

Doubtful, but it's an entertaining thought.

ADD: Just got this note from the Penguins -- the team has recalled goalie Brad Thiessen from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-- Adam Kimelman

Stepping his game up
4.15.2010 / 3:09 p.m. ET

Craig Adams never played with Kent Manderville, but they have a bit in common. Both played for the Penguins and Hurricanes, both are Ivy League graduates (Manderville went to Cornell, Adams to Harvard) and both have 100-plus regular-season goal droughts on their resume. Manderville's streak reached 122 games, while Adams is closing in at 111.

"Is that right? I didn't know. I know it's been a long time, for sure," Adams told NHL.com when informed of his goal-less streak.

However, Adams turns into a veritible Wayne Gretzky during the playoffs. His goal in Game 1 was his fourth in his last 13 postseason games.

"Everybody likes to score, especially when you haven't gotten one in a while," he said.

The goal was a nice backhander off the rush that floated over Brian Elliott's glove and for a time drew the Penguins within one goal, 4-3, in the third period.

"Of the few goals I have in my career, I have probably a disproportionate number of backhanders," said Adams.

-- Adam Kimelman

Michalek done for season
4.15.2010 / 2:27 p.m. ET

Senators GM Bryan Murray moments ago confirmed that forward Milan Michalek tore his ACL last night in Game 1 and will require season-ending surgery.

Michaelk had been playing on a partially torn ligament in his knee suffered in late March and likely needed surgery then, but wanted to remain in the lineup for the playoffs, so he rehabbed to get back in for Game 1.

Murray said the injury happened in the second period on a collision with teammate Mike Fisher and a Penguins defenseman along the wall in the Pittsburgh end.

Michaelk joins forward Alexei Kovalev (ACL tear) and defenseman Filip Kuba as key long-term losses for the Senators.

Ryan Shannon will come into the lineup to replace Michalek.

More details in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Missing in action
4.15.2010 / 1:32 p.m. ET

Two notable Senators are missing from today's practice.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson is skipping the day just to rest. The news might not be as good for forward Milan Michalek. Michalek played on the second line with Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen, but was missing this morning.

Michalek missed time recently with a knee injury, and GM Bryan Murray is going to address the media soon with an update on Michalek's health.

-- Adam Kimelman

New lines?
4.14.2010 / 11:24 p.m. ET

Greetings from Penguins practice. Coach Dan Bylsma seems to change his lines slightly more often than he changes his socks, so take these combos with a pound of salt, but here's how the Pens' forward lines looked this morning:

Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin
Ponikarovsky-Malkin-Dupuis
Kennedy-Staal-Cooke
Rupp-Talbot-Adams

Godard and Fedotenko skated as the extra forwards, with Ponikarovsky filling out the line.

Godard rarely sees the ice in the playoffs, but seeing Fedotenko with him is a bit of a surprise. Does that mean heaks out for Game 2? Maybe not, but it does make things interesting.

-- Adam Kimelman


Fleury will be fine
4.14.2010 / 11:32 p.m. ET

Last year during the playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury was seen as the reason the Penguins wouldn't and couldn't win the Stanley Cup. Well, those were the same people cheering for him in last June's parade.

Now those fans again are gnashing their teeth over Fleury's poor performance in Game 1 tonight against the Senators. But here's a few numbers that should make those fans feel comfortable looking ahead to Game 2 on Friday.

Fleury gave up five goals in a game three times during last year's postseason. Each time, he won the next game, and allowed a total of four goals in those three games. He stopped 45 of 46 shots in Game 4 in Philadelphia in the first round, he stopped 19 of 21 shots in Game 7 in Washington -- anyone remember the glove stop on Ovechkin? -- and made 25 saves on 26 shots in Game 6 of the Final against the Red Wings in Pittsburgh. Fleury more than earned his big-game stripes last season.

Folks, Fleury will be fine. His teammates getting more than 21 shots on the other team's net certainly would help. Oh, and watch those bounces off the glass.

-- Adam Kimelman

Spezza's new role
4.14.2010 / 11:23 p.m. ET

Jarko Ruutu and Chris Neil are the players most looked at on the Ottawa Senators as the guys who drive the opposition bonkers and force them to take ill-timed penalties. But last night, it was Jason Spezza getting under the Penguins' skin. He had three hits, including a high hit on Crosby that sent the Penguins' captain off the ice for a shift midway through the second period. That also drew the ire of Crosby's teammate, Chris Kunitz. When Kunitz saw a chance to take a shot on Spezza, it was a double-whammy -- not only did Kunitz appear to miss Spezza with his hit attempt, he drew a charging penalty for going after a vulnerable player -- Spezza had fallen onto the seat of his pants along the boards. Ottawa cashed in when Erik Karlsson scored to make it 4-2.

He also took Matt Cooke to the penalty box with him in the first minute of the third period.

The hit on Crosby, though, was one Spezza still was relishing after the game.

"You have to watch him when he's on the ice," said Spezza. "You have to be hard on him. He's so strong, he's such a good player. I think the respect that I have for him as a player makes me want to play him even harder."

-- Adam Kimelman

Spezza the agitator
4.14.2010 / 8:52 p.m. ET

Jason Spezza came up high on Sidney Crosby with what either was a shoulder or elbow to Crosby's head, sending the Penguins' captain off for a shift. Chris Kunitz tried to avenge his captain when he saw Spezza in a vulnerable spot -- seated on the ice near the boards after he lost an edge -- and tried to deliver a hit. He appeared to miss Spezza, but still was called for charging. Sixty-three seconds later, Erik Karlsson scored a power-play goal off another big Fleury rebound to make it 4-2.

That's where we stand after two periods. Back with more after the game.

-- Adam Kimelman

Sens take advantage of Fleury's favors
4.14.2010 / 8:10 PM ET

The Penguins took an early lead on Evgeni Malkin's goal, but then they went 16:26 without a shot. Meanwhile, the Senators capitalized on a pair of big rebounds allowed by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for a pair of goals, first by Peter Regin, then by Chris Neil.

First, the shot drought -- it's inexplicable that a team as talented as the Penguins can go nearly an entire period without a shot. And it's not like they didn't have chances. They had a second power play after the one that led to Malkin's goal, and other chances seemed to be high and wide of the net. And when the puck has come into Ottawa's end, Brian Elliott hasn't exactly looked smooth.

And Fleury's rebound control was real bad on the Regin goal. He kicked the puck right back into the slot for an easy goal. On the Neil goal, he needed to re-set himself quicker, but it didn't happen.

Back soon with the second period.

-- Adam Kimelman


Lines and pairings

4.14.2010 / 7:05 PM ET

Here are how the lines and defense pairings appear to shape up to start the game:

Pittsburgh:
Dupuis-Crosby-Guerin
Ponikarovsky-Malkin-Fedotenko
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Kunitz-Talbot-Adams

Orpik-Gonchar
Eaton-Letang
Goligoski-Leopold

Rupp, Godard and McKee are the scratches

Ottawa:
Regin-Spezza-Alfredsson
Cullen-Fisher-Michalek
Ruutu-Kelly-Neil
Foligno-Smith-Winchester

Phillips-Volchenkov
Sutton-Karlsson
Campoli-Carkner

Donovan, Shannon and Lee are the scratches

-- Adam Kimelman

Passing the test
4.14.2010 / 6:44 PM ET

Matt Cooke said after the morning skate that he would be monitored for post-concussion symptoms before deciding if he could play tonight. Seeing as he's out  for warm-ups, he must be good for Game 1. Can't say it's a surprise, considering he practiced Tuesday and skated this morning.

Chris Kunitz also looks to be playing tonight after missing the last four games of the regular season with a shoulder injury.

-- Adam Kimelman

Inside Consol Energy Center
4.14.2010 / 4:04 PM ET

Thanks to Tom McMillan, Penguins vice-president of communications, NHL.com managing editor Shawn Roarke and myself got a first-hand tour of the Penguins' new home starting next season. It's remarkable to see how much progress they've made since I was here for the playoffs last spring. The inside of the building is very bright and open, thanks to mostly glass walls that look out on the Pittsburgh skyline.

The first thing you have to know about the building is it's built into the side of a hill. It's an 80-foot drop from Mellon Arena, on Center Avenue, to Fifth Avenue, where one side of the new building sits. So that presented some unique circumstances, but by the time Consol is done, it might be the envy of the League.

One of the first things fans will notice in the main entrance will be an interactive exhibit featuring an all-time Penguins team, that's currently being voted on by Penguins fans.

Another thing fans will notice immediately is the new center-ice scoreboard. McMillan said the one at Mellon Arena last was updated in 1996, because the roof couldn't support anymore weight. He said there will be more speakers on one side of the scoreboard than there is in all of Mellon Arena.

The seats in the building will be a pretty neat mix of black and gold. The upper and lower concourses will all be open, which McMillan said came after seeing Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota. The shape and look of the upper concouse, he said, comes from Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix.

There will be a suite level at the top of the lower bowl, but there also will be 4-8 seat loge-level boxes. They're not quite suites, but they are set off from the rest of the lower bowl, and McMillan said they would be perfect for a small company looking to buy season tickets but can't afford a full suite. Tom said the folks in Columbus have had a lot of success with that kind of setup at Nationwide Arena.

There will 18,087 seats, and 66 suites when finished. "We're looking for something to do that's 71," McMillan joked.

Speaking of 66 suites, one of the most unique features of the building will be Suite 66, which is located behind the Penguins bench. Fans in this suite will be able to see the players walking on and off the ice before, during and after games.

For the players, the locker room is huge, the players' lounge even bigger. There is a hydrotherapy room and a gym, which McMillan believes will be the biggest in the League.

Covering the next few games in Mellon Arena will be a bit of a let-down after touring the Consol Energy Center, but I'm really looking forward to going to games here next season.

-- Adam Kimelman

Ottawa lines
4.14.2010 / 1:37 PM ET

Here are the lines and defense pairings Ottawa likely will go with tonight:

Peter Regin-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek-Mike Fisher-Matt Cullen
Jarko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil
Nick Foligno-Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester

Anton Volchenkov-Chris Phillips
Andy Sutton-Erik Karlsson
Chris Campoli-Matt Carkner

Also, check NHL.com for Senators coach Cory Clouston, Spezza and Fisher talking about their level of confidence in goalie Brian Elliott. He may be a playoff rookie, but Clouston doesn't see why Elliott couldn't follow in the footsteps of Cam Ward in 2006, Patrick Roy in 1986 and even Ken Dryden in 1971 as playoff newbies who led their team to a Stanley Cup.

-- Adam Kimelman


Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp