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Senators set to unite Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek

by Chris Adamski /

PITTSBURGH -- If the Ottawa Senators are going down, they're going down with their most talented and experienced forwards skating together to start a game in which they're facing elimination.

Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek have combined for 2,338 regular-season NHL games and 2,084 points. The trio was united for line rushes during the morning skate in advance of Friday's Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

With Ottawa down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, coach Paul MacLean said he'd have his tenured trio out on the ice for the opening faceoff in an attempt to steer momentum the Senators' way.

"That's a line we can always go back to," MacLean said. "Obviously they're a veteran threesome that's played a number of games in the League. We've always felt we could go to that, just because they're veteran players. The start of the game hasn't been very good for us these first four games; maybe if we start veterans out on the ice at the beginning of the game it can have a calming effect on the rest of the group."

Alfredsson, the Senators captain, is the franchise career leader in all relevant categories. Spezza, an alternate captain, has been with the team his entire 10-year career, and Michalek is in his fourth season with Ottawa.

Spezza missed all but five games of the season because of a back injury, but returned to play Games 3 and 4 in Ottawa.

"Obviously ... [MacLean] is looking for us to give a little bit of a jump," Spezza said. "I haven't played with Alfie very consistently the last couple years, so it's nice to play with him and we'd like to have a good game.

"He's putting the three of us together; hopefully we'll find that chemistry."

The Senators have scored nine goals in the series, including two from Alfredsson and one from Michalek. Spezza and Alfredsson are four-time 30-goal scorers, and Michalek had a career-high 35 last season, leading the team.

Like Spezza, Michalek was injured more often than not during the regular season.

"Maybe we're looking for a spark, maybe an offensive spark -- but that looks like a pretty strong line to me. Pretty dangerous," Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot said.

"(MacLean's) got a couple tricks up his sleeve. He's been around, he's been through this before. ... I know if I'm out there with those guys it will give us a good opportunity to score some goals."

One player who will not be of help to the Senators offensively Friday is rookie wing Mark Stone. The 21-year-old had an assist in Wednesday's game but left because of injury and did not make the trip with the team to Pittsburgh.

Either Matt Kassian or Cory Conacher figures to take his place in the lineup. Conacher was a healthy scratch for Game 4, and Kassian has not played since Game 1. If the morning skate is any indication, Kassian took line rushes with what would be the fourth line. MacLean did not commit to who would be in uniform.

MacLean did, however, say that the lines would have a different look than what was used two nights prior.

"We've done that for a good chunk of the year when we needed a little extra momentum or an extra boost," forward Zack Smith said. "When our coaching staff has done that, it's worked for the most part. If you play a few different faces and mix it up a bit, sometimes bounces go your way, and hopefully that works tonight."

Milan Michalek- Jason Spezza -Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Kyle Turris - Erik Condra

Zack Smith - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg

Matt Kassian/Cory Conacher - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Chris Neil

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Chris Phillips - Andre Benoit

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Conacher/Kassian, Mike Hoffman, Guillaume Latendresse, Mike Lundin, Peter Regin

Injured: Eric Gryba (upper body), Mark Stone (undisclosed), Patrick Wiercioch (lower body)

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