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Senators announce Spezza part of Game 3 lineup

by Erin Nicks

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators find themselves down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into Game 3 Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But the Senators are hoping the return of Jason Spezza to their lineup provides the spark they desperately need.

Spezza has been out of the lineup since Jan. 27, and a herniated disc in his back forced the 29-year-old to undergo surgery.

"[Spezza] gives us more depth," coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a legitimate No. 1 center."

Spezza is expected to be flanked by wings Cory Conacher and Milan Michalek. For Conacher, lacing up alongside the center is a brand-new challenge he feels ready to face.

"It's been fun," Conacher said. "So far, since I've played with him, which has pretty much been only [Sunday], he's really helped me out. He's let me know his tendencies; the things he likes and doesn't like to do. I feel no pressure, especially because of the way he is off the ice with me."

Michalek will move to the right wing to accommodate Conacher on the left side. Michalek typically handles the left wing of Spezza, but MacLean said the move should be a non-issue.

"[Michalek] is a good player," MacLean said. "He's used to doing it."

MacLean said Saturday he did not expect Spezza to play "20 or 25 minutes" during his first game; therefore, the center will start the night on the second line.

Here is the projected lineup for the Senators:

Jakob SilfverbergKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson

Cory ConacherJason SpezzaMilan Michalek

Zack SmithMika ZibanejadChris Neil

Colin GreeningJean-Gabriel PageauErik Condra

Erik KarlssonMarc Methot

Jared CowenSergei Gonchar

Andre BenoitChris Phillips

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Guillaume Latendresse, Mike Lundin, Peter Regin, Jim O'Brien, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone

Injured: Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch

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