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Senators to focus on their strengths

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- The raw numbers are striking -- and strikingly simple.

The Pittsburgh Penguins led the NHL in goals during the regular season; the Ottawa Senators were the Eastern Conference's best team at preventing them.

So the seventh-seeded Senators know what style of play they will turn to in hopes of succeeding in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 1 is Tuesday ((7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN) here at Consol Energy Center.

"Giving them odd-man rushes, with their skill, is not going to work to our favor," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "So we want to play a disciplined game -- but also not just play a passive game. We want to get engaged and get the forecheck going. That's how we're going to generate our chances."

The No. 8-seed New York Islanders were able to get plenty of chances on the counterattack against the Penguins, and Ottawa is one of the few teams in the NHL that can compare to the Islanders when it comes to raw speed among its forwards.

Although the Islanders had some success when their series against the Penguins turned into glorified track meets, the Senators maintain they aren't interested in emulating that strategy.

"We're going to try to establish our Ottawa Senators game," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "I'm not sure we're a team that's outscored a lot of teams this year. A big strength of our team is our team play and structure of our team and our work ethic, and now we've added to our identity a physicality. And those are the things we're going to try to concentrate on.

"We know [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin are world-class players, and if you give world-class players time and space, they're going to have success. Come playoff time, time and space become compressed, and we need to do a good job of that."

Judging by the morning-skate line rushes, there are no surprises among the Senators' line combinations and defense pairings expected for faceoff Tuesday. Here is what their lineup likely will look like (click here to see the Penguins' projected lineup):

Cory Conacher - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg

Matt Kassian - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Colin Greening - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar

Jared Cowen - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Andre Benoit, Mike Lundin, Peter Regin, Guillaume Latendresse, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone

Injured: Patrick Wiercioch (lower body), Jason Spezza (back)

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