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Penguins vs Senators

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Penguins vs Senators - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Young Senators learned valuable playoff lesson

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- With 12 players on the roster age 25 and younger, the Ottawa Senators are a team brimming with youth, hungry for experience.

The club’s five-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals was a painful lesson. However, the young contributors got a taste of what it takes to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think we took another step in the right direction," center Kyle Turris said. "I know it's pretty early, but I'm looking forward to next year already. The improvements we've made and [will] continue to make are exciting."

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Five reasons Senators were eliminated from playoffs

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Ottawa Senators' unlikely 2012-13 season came to an end Friday when they lost, 6-2, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But just being in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let alone in the second round, was a minor miracle for a team that had to overcome crippling injuries to star players all season.

While it would be easy to say the Senators lost simply because they are not the Penguins, small improvements in certain areas of Ottawa's game could have extended the series.

Here are five of them:

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Five reasons Penguins advanced to conference final

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins advanced to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- where they will play the winner of the Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers series -- with a comprehensive five-game dispatching of the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators.

As the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh was expected to reach the NHL final four, but the ride has not always been smooth.

There was the meltdown of No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the first round, as well as a more-than-occasional gaffe in the defensive zone. There was a frustrating, last-minute lapse in concentration in Game 3 that allowed Ottawa to tie it on the penalty kill and win in double overtime to give the Senators a short-lived toehold in the series.

But, in the end, the favored Penguins proved too much for the Pesky Senators, who upset the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round.

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Disappointed Senators taking positives from season

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- In the end, their captain was right.

But the Ottawa Senators aren't going to let getting eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins ruin what was, on the whole, a positive season.

"I hope they don't bill us for that clinic," Senators coach Paul MacLean said after the Penguins' 6-2 win in Game 5 wrapped up this Eastern Conference Semifinal on Friday night.

"One thing about our group is adversity really tends to be something we thrive on and we can take good things out of. And we will take good things out of this, and it will make us better."

Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson was scrutinized in some parts for what he said following Pittsburgh's 7-3 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Alfredsson, in comments he did not back down from but were made as part of a larger context, said "Probably not" and "It doesn't look too good" when asked whether the Senators could come back to win the series down 3-1 to the powerful Penguins.

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Neal takes over Penguins' powerful offense

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- It has not been the easiest Stanley Cup Playoffs for James Neal.

He scored once in the Pittsburgh Penguins' first nine postseason games and managed three assists. It was not up to the expectations Neal has for himself or those the team has for him. The struggles also were a bit of a reminder about the ones he experienced in his first two postseasons with Pittsburgh after arriving in a trade from the Dallas Stars.

The Penguins flamed out in each of those first-round series, and Neal was one of the many scapegoats after managing three goals in 12 games.

That all changed in a stunning display across the final two games of this Eastern Conference Semifinal. Neal scored five goals -- including a hat trick in the clinching 6-2, Game 5 win against the Ottawa Senators on Friday at Consol Energy Center -- and seven points in a two-game display of the offensive magic that made him a trade target in the first place.

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Alfredsson unsure of future after season ends

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said Friday he hasn't made any decisions about whether his NHL career will continue. But he allows that his positive experiences with teammates this season might be a factor perhaps swaying him to delay retirement.

"All I can say is it's been a great year in terms of the group we've had, the adversity we've faced," Alfredsson said soon after Ottawa was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. "We became a tight group and stuck together throughout. It's been a lot of fun, so I'll definitely take that with me when I think about what to do."

The 40-year-old was noncommittal about his plans in the moments after his 17th NHL season ended. All of those were played with the Senators, the franchise he has served as captain for more than a decade.

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Penguins steamroll into Eastern Conference Final

NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.

After two straight first-round exits, the Penguins wrapped up this year's second-round series against the Ottawa Senators with a 6-2 victory in Game 5 Friday at Consol Energy Center.

"Those were two tough playoff series the past couple years, especially last year," Penguins forward James Neal told NBC Sports Network. "We had a confident team coming in and we just want to show what we can do, and it feels good right now."

Pittsburgh will face either the Boston Bruins or New York Rangers for the right to play in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins lead the Rangers 3-1 in the other Eastern Conference Semifinal series and can advance with a victory in Game 5 at home Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"I've been watchng all the games pretty closely," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang told NHL Netwrok. "We want to know who we're going to play and get ready for them, and making sure we keep going the way we've been playing."

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Crosby preaches focus, desperation before Game 5

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby isn't ready to get ahead of himself in this Eastern Conference Semifinal.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain has heard all the chatter about how his team has found its legs in this series after the 7-3 thrashing they delivered to the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 Wednesday.

He's seen the reports of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson delivering what many believed was a concession speech of sorts in the emotional aftermath of that game in Ottawa.

He senses the subtle shift in the tone of the questions he received Friday as the team prepared for Game 5 at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), when reporters began focusing as much on big-picture, look-ahead stories as much as the here and now.

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Alfredsson doesn't back down from comments

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

OTTAWA – Daniel Alfredsson has been captain of the Ottawa Senators for 14 of the 20 years the modern incarnation of the franchise has been in the NHL.

Over that time, his leadership has almost never come into question. Until now.

When Alfredsson stated that the Senators probably wouldn't be able to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins three straight times to win their Eastern Conference Semifinal series after Ottawa's 7-3 loss in Game 4 on Wednesday night, it created serious shockwaves across the Canadian capital.

It was perhaps not so much what was said, but rather who was saying it.

The ultimate leader, the only captain younger Senators fans had ever known.

How could Daniel Alfredsson say this?

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Penguins pleased Pirates wearing jerseys on trip

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- There was to be a gathering of more than two dozen men wearing Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys Thursday night.

Not unexpected for a May evening on the eve of a day in which the Penguins can advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a victory, right?

Except that this wasn't in Pittsburgh -- and it wasn't just Western Pennsylvania fans donning Penguins sweaters.

It was in, of all places, Milwaukee. And it was coming from a group of Major League Baseball players.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates left for a five-game road trip after playing the Chicago Cubs at home Thursday, they planned on doing so wearing Penguins jerseys.

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning