SENATORS at PENGUINS
(Ottawa leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
Can the Penguins bounce back from their disheartening Game 1 loss? Or will all the pucks that bounced the Senators' way Wednesday continue in Game 2?
The line of Chris Kelly, Chris Neil
and Jarkko Ruutu isn't counted on for much offensively. But in addition to their lock-down defense, the trio combined for 3 goals and 3 assists in Game 1.
"Defensively, that's a real solid line," coach Cory Clouston said. "They check well, they're responsible, they know what they need to do. To get 3 goals out of that line is a bonus. We've had other games during the season where they've scored important goals for us. Hopefully they all continue to play well offensively, but our main concern with that line is being able to create momentum, be stronger defensively and chip in when they can offensively. Last night was a bonus getting three goals, but we needed it last night."
Penguins: Sidney Crosby
had just two shots in Game 1, but said that was a product of how the Senators were playing him.
"If you watch the game, where would you have thought I could have shot more?" Crosby asked rhetorically.
The lack of offensive production was endemic to the entire team, and according to coach Dan Bylsma, more of a result of the Penguins getting away from their game.
"Really it's not so much our team trying to do something for Sidney Crosby
or Evgeni Malkin
to get him more room," he said, "it's how we need to execute and the mentality with which we execute and play the game will result in us getting more zone time and that's something we have to be better at."
During the regular season, the Senators' power play was 21st in the League at 16.9 percent. In Wednesday's Game 1, however, they cashed in twice in three attempts.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin
had a rough regular season, but he looked more like the Malkin of last season during Game 1, scoring a pair of power-play goals and finishing with a team-high four shots.
The Senators will be without second-line forward Milan Michalek
for the remainder of the postseason after he tore the ACL in his left knee during Game 1. Michalek joins forward Alexei Kovalev (knee) and defenseman Filip Kuba
(back) on the injured list.
Penguins back-up goalie Brent Johnson
skipped practice Thursday due to flu-like symptoms, and the team called up goalie Brad Thiessen from their AHL team in case Johnson isn't feeling well enough to back up Marc-Andre Fleury
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Penguins' Game 1 loss marked the sixth time in the last seven playoff years that the defending Stanley Cup champion either lost its postseason opener or missed the playoffs. Last year Detroit beat Columbus, but before that, Anaheim lost to Dallas in 2008; Carolina in 2007 missed the playoffs; in 2006 Tampa Bay lost to Ottawa; in 2004 New Jersey lost to Philadelphia; and in 2003, Detroit lost to Anaheim.
It doesn't take much for two teams battling in the playoff crucible to get a good hate going. Senators GM Bryan Murray, however, thinks hate might be too strong a word.
"We're playing a game. Hatred is a little bit strong," Murray said. "It's great for you guys in the media to write about and ask the players about. … We're strong competitors, with some emotion that will be ramped up a little bit. … 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 that's the right word."