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Senators hope return home helps them get into series

by Tal Pinchevsky


(Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-0)


Big story: Any hopes the Ottawa Senators have of getting back into this Eastern Conference Semifinal series will hinge on their performance in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After dropping the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh, Ottawa will need to take advantage of the series shifting to Scotiabank Place. The last time they dropped the first two games in a series to Pittsburgh, they were swept out of the first round of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Senators forward Jason Spezza practiced Saturday without a no-contact jersey and is expected to play. He was limited to five games this season with a back injury.

Team Scope:

Pittsburgh: It didn't take long for center Sidney Crosby to make his mark on Game 2 of the series. The Penguins captain walked past Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and beat goalie Craig Anderson to open the scoring. Kyle Turris would reply for Ottawa 10 minutes later, but Crosby would score twice more, completing his hat trick on the power play 1:15 into the second period. The goal would end the night for Anderson, who was pulled and replaced by Robin Lehner.

Ottawa would continue to battle back throughout the game, but Brenden Morrow's second-period deflection would prove to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory. Pittsburgh never trailed in the matchup and outshot the Senators 42-22. But the Penguins needed some big stops from goaltender Tomas Vokoun to secure the win.

"Right from the drop of the puck we came out and had some great chances, some good pressure," Penguins forward Jarome Iginla said. "I thought not just this game, but our first two games were good overall games."

Senators: The final score may have been close in Game 2, but the Penguins have created some serious problems for the Senators through two games. For one thing, Ottawa has not led at any point in the series. It's also failed to contain Pittsburgh's star players or a dominating Penguins power play which has scored three times in 10 opportunities.

Perhaps most worrisome for Ottawa is the play of Anderson. After appearing unbeatable in the opening round against the Montreal Canadiens, he has allowed seven goals on 51 shots in two games for a save percentage of .863. His early exit Friday marked the only time all season he's been removed for performance reasons. If they want to get back into the series, the Senators will need to improve in numerous areas, starting from their net on out.

They'll surely benefit from the return of Spezza. The all-star confirmed Saturday he would be back for Game 3.

"The obvious challenge is the speed of the game and hopping right into the playoffs isn't easy," Spezza said. "I've put in the work. It's been a long time coming and I hope the excitement can kind of help me get through to get things back as quick as possible."

Who's hot: Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has eight points in his past six games. Center Evgeni Malkin is tied for the playoff lead with 14 points. Crosby is right behind him with 12 points. … Ottawa's Jean-Gabriel Pageau has six points in his past five games. Turris has four goals in his past five games. Erik Condra has five points in his current three-game point streak.

Injury report: The Penguins are fielding a healthy lineup. … Senators forward Mike Hoffman (upper body) is out. Defensemen Eric Gryba and Patrick Wiercioch are questionable.

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