PENGUINS AT SENATORS
(Pittsburgh leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
Big story: Sidney Crosby
again was dominant in helping the Penguins take a 4-2 win in Game 3 to wrest back home-ice advantage in the series. Can he do it again? Or can the Senators rally to re-tie the series?
While a great deal of the talk in the series is how Ottawa is trying to shut down Crosby, what's been overlooked is how the Penguins have quieted the Senators' dynamic duo of Daniel Alfredsson
and Jason Spezza
. The two have a combined 6 assists, but are a minus-4 with just eight shots.
Coach Dan Bylsma said much of the credit for that should go to defenseman Brooks Orpik
"By our count, in Game 2 Orpik had 15 hits," Bylsma said. "He's an intimidating, physical guy when he plays like that. He's an aggressive defender and a physical defender. You have to be aware of him on the ice. He's that type of defender, and the physicality with which he plays makes it tough to earn that time and space and scoring opportunities, that's why he's been effective for this team for a number of years."
Coach Cory Clouston was asked if he's happy with the play he's gotten from Spezza, who has six shots in the three games but also has team-highs of four missed shots and six giveaways. Clouston said Spezza's play has been fine, with the exception of the third period of Game 3, when he said Spezza started trying to do too much.
"I think the first 40 minutes he was real good," Clouston said. "Toward the end of the game I thought he tried to do too much, tried to force things that weren't there, turned the puck over too many times. It wasn't from a lack of effort, it was more poor decision-making with the puck.
"There were some examples in the first two periods where he played well. I haven't been that upset with his game at all. I just think he resorted back to some old habits in the third period, and it was trying to do too much individually as opposed to more of a team concept. Most of that was three turnovers at their blue line toward the end of the game. In the first two games (and) in the first two periods (of Game 3), those weren't turnovers.
"He was more of a compounding situation, where the last memory of the game last night was toward the end of the game and it was a 4-1 score and he was trying to do too much by himself. And it never works in that regard."
As prolific a scorer as Crosby is -- he leads all postseason skaters with 5 assists and 7 points -- he's been just as good in other areas. He's tied for the League lead in plus/minus with a plus-4. His five takeaways are second in the League, and he's won 61.4 percent of his faceoffs, good for fifth in the League.
The Senators have the best power play in the postseason, scoring four times in nine chances (44.4 percent).
The Penguins again will be without defenseman Jordan Leopold, who did not make the trip to Ottawa after suffering a hard hit from Ottawa's Andy Sutton in the first period of Game 2. Goalie Brent Johnson
, who had been suffering from flu-like symptoms, could be backing up Marc-Andre Fleury
again for Game 4.
Except for long-term injuries suffered by Milan Michalek
(knee), Alexei Kovalev (knee) and Filip Kuba
(back), the Senators have a healthy squad.
Six times the Senators have lost Game 3 in a series, and all three times they went on to lose the series.
You'd think scoring one of the biggest goals in hockey history in his home country would buy Crosby some love from the Ottawa fans -- or least a little less razzing then he gets just about anywhere outside of Pittsburgh.
Anytime the puck near Crosby's stick, he was booed lustily by the sold-out Scotiabank Place crowd. Not that Crosby was surprised, however.
"I don't think it'll make a difference," he said prior to Sunday's game. "I don't expect (any love). Nothing."