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5 Keys: Senators at Penguins, Game 2

Pittsburgh must convert on power play; Ottawa willing to surrender outside shots

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

SENATORS at PENGUINS

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Ottawa leads best-of-7 series 1-0

 

PITTSBURGH -- The Ottawa Senators could earn a considerable edge in the Eastern Conference Final with a second consecutive win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 on Monday.

Ottawa won 2-1 in overtime Saturday and would take a 2-0 series lead with another road win at PPG Paints Arena. If the Penguins hope to avoid that hole, they must significantly increase their presence deep in the Senators zone.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:

 

1. Penguins power play must convert

Pittsburgh was behind 1-0 following the first period in Game 1 after it failed to convert on four power plays. That included a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds 4:58 into the game.

The Penguins were 0-for-5 on the power play Saturday. They have scored on one of 12 opportunities in their past four games, which has resulted in three losses.

Coach Mike Sullivan would like the power play to generate more chances around the net while retaining its movement, which he was satisfied with in Game 1.

"We've got a capable group here," Sullivan said. "Sometimes just because the power play doesn't score doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't effective. … We didn't convert and that's ultimately what we'd like to do."

Video: Billy Jaffe talks to Nick Bonino following Game 1

 

2. Ottawa looking to limit quality chances

The Senators kept the Penguins to the outside in Game 1, which gave goalie Craig Anderson time and space to make 27 saves on 28 shots. The Penguins never were able to establish a presence around the Senators' net until Evgeni Malkin scored to tie the game 1-1 with 5:35 left in the third period.

Following Game 1, Senators forward Clarke MacArthur said they are willing to surrender outside shots. They will likely keep that attitude Monday.

"It doesn't matter who we play against or how good they are, we're aware of their strengths," Senators coach Guy Boucher said Sunday.

 

3. Neutral zone battle

The Penguins started practice Sunday by intentionally clogging the neutral zone. Several skaters weaved around one another with each carrying a puck, which was designed to help the Penguins find a way to break down the Senators' trap. 

The Penguins established themselves in the offensive zone in Game 1 but rarely entered with much speed. The Penguins are at their best when darting through the neutral zone on quick transitions and shooting early and often.

"Maybe just play a little more simple," Penguins forward Bryan Rust said. "Get pucks to the net when you can."

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm1: Boucher talks about the Sens' OT win

 

4. Increased production from Phil Kessel

Penguins forward Phil Kessel has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 13 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's not indicative of his recent performance, though.

Each of Kessel's points came in Pittsburgh's first 10 games. He has become increasingly passive, especially on the power play, in three games since.

Kessel has gone three straight playoff games without a point for the first time in two postseasons with the Penguins. They will need Kessel to become more aggressive starting Monday.

 

5. The first goal

The Senators played their deliberate, defensive style throughout much of Game 1 after they took a 1-0 lead with 5:28 remaining in the first period. If the Penguins had scored first, they could have forced the Senators to open their game, which would play into the Penguins' hands.

The Penguins and Senators each will look to score early to dictate the action and tilt the ice in their favor.

"I think getting the first goal is definitely important," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "It might change the game plan a little bit. If they have the lead, they can sit back and be more passive."

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm1: Pageau finishes Ryan's slick feed

 

Senators projected lineup

Bobby Ryan -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Mark Stone

Clarke MacArthur -- Kyle Turris -- Mike Hoffman

Ryan Dzingel -- Derick Brassard -- Alexandre Burrows

Tom Pyatt -- Zack Smith -- Tommy Wingels

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico, Ben Harpur, 

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body), Viktor Stalberg (undisclosed) 

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Conor Sheary

Scott Wilson -- Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta-- Justin Schultz

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Tom Kuhnhackl, Josh Archibald, Mark Streit, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire

Injured: Kris Letang (upper body), Trevor Daley (lower body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Stalberg skated with Senators scratches Monday but will not play. … Hagelin and Hornqvist were game-time decisions. Hornqvist participated in warmups but left the ice early. Each missed an optional morning skate. Hornqvist took a maintenance day and Hagelin practiced for a third consecutive day Sunday.

 

Who's hot

Pageau has one goal in each of his past three games. He leads the Senators with eight goals in 13 playoff games. … Malkin scored Pittsburgh's only goal in Game 1. He leads the NHL with 19 playoff points (six goals, 13 assists).

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