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With extra off day between games, Penguins rest up

by Shawn P. Roarke

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't do much Wednesday, the morning after a convincing 4-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The players who did not play in the game -- the Black Aces -- took part in a short but crisp practice. They were joined by defenseman Deryk Engelland, who returned to the defensive rotation in Game 1, and Craig Adams, the fourth-line center. Evgeni Malkin also took a quick twirl but did not wear full pads.

However, that doesn't mean the Penguins didn't get anything done.

Most importantly, said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, the team got a chance to rest a bit by staying off the ice. The team met in the morning, watched a little video and talked about points they want to stress in Game 2 on Friday.

Bylsma said the team will practice Thursday morning.

"Rest is a big one, I think," Bylsma said when asked what he takes from the extra off day. "Everyone appears to be healthy, but there are bumps and bruises. It is a day to take for that, get some recovery.

"We took today as a day to meet, look at our game and the part we need to get better at. Tomorrow we will go on the ice for a practice and treat these two days that we got something out of today even more than rest and recovery. We treated it as practice, but practice off the ice as a meeting. It was still a purposeful day today."

For the players, the extra off day was not entirely welcomed. They are creatures of habit and embrace the every-other-night rhythm that is such a part of a Stanley Cup Playoffs series.

They tried to look on the bright side of having almost 72 hours between games.

"You do want to keep playing, keep the momentum going and jump right back in," forward James Neal said. "But guys have little injuries you can rest up and get ready. It's going to be a long series, we know that. Any rest you can get is welcomed."

Adams said he is not worrying about rust settling in for the Penguins, who have played once since eliminating the New York Islanders on Saturday.

"We'll take our rest when we can get it and be ready for Friday," Adams said. "To me, every game in playoffs is its own game. You have to approach every game individually. When you get a chance to rest, you rest, and work on things you need to work on and talk about things and watch video -- just getting ready for the next game."

Ottawa followed a similar game plan Wednesday, scheduling an optional practice in the afternoon and having the regulars meet and watch video.

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