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Senators seek more offense against Penguins in Game 3

Ottawa vows to push harder in Pittsburgh's end, play more aggressively

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The Ottawa Senators are content with allowing the Pittsburgh Penguins two goals in two games of the Eastern Conference Final but less content with their own offensive output, also two goals.

The latter is the focus heading into Game 3 at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) with the best-of-7 series tied 1-1. The Senators need to figure out how to put more offensive pressure on the Penguins and especially on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who had long stretches of inactivity in Game 2 on Monday.

Ottawa went 18:53 without a shot on goal bridging the second and third periods of a 1-0 loss.

"We didn't generate a lot of offense," forward Tom Pyatt said. "We played a solid, intense game, kept them to the outside, but I think they spent a little too much time in our zone. Obviously, we [need] a better offensive effort for Game 3."

Pyatt looked up a couple of times at the scoreboard in Game 2, noting the Senators had 16 shots. Each time he looked up again, that number hadn't budged. It didn't change from 16:13 of the second period through 15:06 of the third, a span when Penguins forward Phil Kessel scored the game-winning goal.

"We're sitting back a little bit too much," Pyatt said. "Obviously, our defensive game, that's our strength. We're going to stick to that. But at the same time we have to find a way to generate some more time in their zone, get some more pucks to the net. I think we stuck at 16 shots for a long time, the second half of the game, so we need to get some more rubber to the net."

Video: The crew looks at the highlights of Pens-Sens Game 2

Though the Senators are known for their defensive structure, they've demonstrated some offensive ability in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the first two rounds, Ottawa scored 34 goals in 12 games (2.83 goals per game), so there doesn't seem to be many adjustments that need to be made; the Senators need to remember exactly who they are. 

"We outshot them 32-17 5-on-5 in the first game," coach Guy Boucher said. "That's a pretty big push. We were pushing all game the first game, and there's an opponent out there. I want to push, but the Stanley Cup champions [are] on the other side there. We're not going to stomp all over them, and if we get into an offensive contest, well, we can give them the series right now. We've got to know what we are."

But there are things the Senators can do better, including cutting down on giveaways and getting shots on net, in addition to getting more traffic in front of Fleury, which Pyatt said he didn't believe they had enough of in Game 2.

That was something forward Mike Hoffman emphasized as well: the push to get in front of Fleury, to not give him the time and ability to see the pucks coming at him, and especially the push to not allow him to sit back and wait and have a nearly 20-minute long break. 

"We gave the puck away too [many] times," Boucher said, "and we didn't go to their net as much as we could."

That is not going to work.

"We generated chances," Hoffman said. "It's just a matter of bearing down and capitalizing [on] them. We've had some open nets, 2-on-1s, posts, mini-breakaways and stuff. So it's not like we're not getting chances. It's just a matter of capitalizing on them."


[RELATED: Complete Senators vs. Penguins series coverage]


Ultimately, the Senators are pleased to be heading back to Ottawa with a split in Pittsburgh. They have two home games ahead, with all the confidence that brings. There were a number of positives to take out of the first two games, even with the fact they were dominated in some of the later stages of Game 2 before coming back with their own push at the end of the third period. 

They will need more push ahead. They believe they can and will get that.

"The game was right there," defenseman Marc Methot said. "Even though they were all over us at times, we still had an opportunity to win that game and we know that we can hang in there right now. You've got to look at it that way. We know we belong here in this position. We've worked really hard to get here. The series is 1-1."

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