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Senators vs. Penguins: Game Three

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

5:20 PM: The best Sens game preview in the business courtesy of Sens TV and Mr. Gord Wilson.

5:00 PM: Sens TV got their usual fantastic audio/visual content today. Have a look.

Paul MacLean

Jason Spezza

Craig Anderson

Zack Smith

4:30 PM: Daniel Alfredsson held court as per usual and offered up plenty regarding the team, the series and himself.

On the team's mindset ahead of Game 3:

We know we have to be better in certain areas but we're not going to panic. We know what type of team we are, we know what our identity is and we're going to stick with it... It's something we talk about, not just me but the older guys in the room. After the game in Pittsburgh we talked about what we could have done better, what we did good and it's always evolving as its own organism, especially in the playoffs, where you have to evolve and adapt and adjust. The biggest thing is believing in what you're doing. We have another step to go and we intend to do that tonight.
On this season vs. last season:
It was tougher than we thought it would be. We had a good year last year and we thought we could build on that. We had a lot of injuries but it was also a very fun year in terms of us, people talking, "They'll just tread water for a bit and then they'll fall out of the picture," and we managed to stay in it, stay in it. We had a few bumps and bruises along the way but always found a way to get up and get back into it. It was an exciting year. A lot of young guys in the room, a lot of enthusiasm and I think everybody had to step up on their toes a little bit more than if we would have had a full lineup but that's part of what makes it even sweeter.
On the team's mentality:
We've got a great locker room where it's fun to come into the rink. It starts with the coaches to the players having a good attitude each and every day. Our mantra has been try to get better all the time. We've done a good job of that and find ourselves where we are now, which is a lot of fun.
On the benefits of a tough season:
We have learned a lot this year. We have going forward, much more depth and I think the coaches' confidence in that depth going forward. Guys are coming back and going into next year guys might not have spots that had spots this year for whatever reason. But they also know that they've played well enough that if anything happens they're going to be called up right away because the coaches know what they bring to the table. You can never have too much depth in today's game.
On if Sweden will see him as part of the Sochi 2014 team:
I don't know in what capacity but they might.
4:00 PM: The Red Zone has opened up outside of Scotiabank Place. Fans who don't have tickets will want to make their way over. The most hardcore fans in the Molson Canadian Hockey House may get picked to win a pair of tickets for tonight's game. Tonight could be your chance to see some killer playoff hockey... for free. 

3:40 PM: Colin Greening has two goals in the first two games of this series and is kicking it up a notch these playoffs. Here are some of his thoughts before Game 3:

On getting off to a good start:

When you're talking about starts, the last two games especially, we're playing in Pittsburgh, it's the start of round two, I'm sure that Pittsburgh -- and you could tell from the get-go -- they fed off the energy of the home crowd. So that's something we want to do tonight is feed off our home crowd. It's going to be an exciting time. It's May 2-4 long weekend. Everyone -- if they're not camping -- is going to be watching hockey. It's an exciting time here in Ottawa and we want to be able to do what Pittsburgh did on their home ice. We want to feed off the energy and I think the first five minutes will be indicative of that.
On his chemistry with Pageau and Condra:
To be honest I'm surprised we were able to develop such quick chemistry in such a short period of time. Pageau came up, his first game was in Philadelphia, and as soon as he came up he looked very, very comfortable and I think that's a testament to Luke Richardson and his coaching staff in Binghamton. He certainly looked very comfortable and the biggest thing I've noticed with Pageau is he has a very quick first step and he gets into the right spots at the right time. For a winger like me it's important that I have some support and guys are able to read off me and he's very good at getting into the right spot. Myself and Erik, obviously I love playing with Erik. We've played together for three years now in Binghamton and now in Ottawa. He's such a smart player, he makes the right plays at the right time and we read each other very well... It's a good relationship, I hope that it'll continue to be like that.
On what has been going well for him thus far:
When I feel like my skating is on, that's the biggest thing for me especially in the last two games. I felt like my skating was on and I had a good smooth stride. For me as long as that's on I feel like everything else falls in place. I'm hoping it'll be the same situation tonight. Each game is different as always, I felt like I made some good strides -- I'm not trying to make a pun or anything -- but I felt like I took good steps forward. I'm hoping that I'll be able to feed off the energy of the home crowd and continue what I started in Game 2.
On the key to getting his skating going:
Stretching. A lot of warming up and stretching. Especially now with the games all packed in together in the playoffs you get tight muscles and stuff like that. Our training staff is great with that, helping me loosen up my body... It changes from day-to-day. The unfortunate thing is that when you're in the playoffs and you've had so many games together -- we just had a 48 game season where you're playing every other day -- your body is not meant to go through something like that so your muscles are going to tighten up and things are going to get out of place and that'll cause your stride to shorten up a little bit or you won't be able to reach for the puck as much. That's why we have such a great training staff. They're helping us out with that. It can be tough sometimes to be able to keep that consistency. That's why I'm hoping that what I've done from Game 1 to Game 2 can carry over to tonight.
On his offensive performance:
I feel like now I'll probably shoot more. Once you get a couple of goals you gain that confidence. When I'm in front of the net I won't be too shy to shoot it.
2:45 PM: Jason Spezza had another massive media session today (photo below for proof). He discussed his injury, his return and what it's like to finally be playing again.

On if the nerves have kicked in yet:

Not yet. I will around game time, if you don't get nerves you probably lose your edge a little bit. I'm excited to play again, so it'll definitely be a little bit of excitement before the game.
On the importance of coming back tonight:
This isn't coming back in Game 40 of the regular season, this is Game 3 in a must-win situation. Expectations are that I'm going to be real excited, play real well and bring some enthusiasm to the squad. Where that leads me, we'll find out.
On what it has been like to get going again:
Fun. You miss it. It's not very fun being the first guy at the rink and the first one to leave and not being around the guys and not getting the stimulation of playing and even the first time going on the ice and shooting pucks and stuff, you feel like a kid again.
2:15 PM: Many believe that the biggest beneficiary of Jason Spezza's return will be Kyle Turris who will no longer have to fill the 1C spot. Here's what Kyle had to say about the return of number 19...

Spezza is one of the best players in the league so any time he's out there they're going to have to respect that. Whether they pay more attention to him or waste more energy on him he's always going to get their best matchup. That's where I'm going to have to keep working hard and playing my game to try and take advantage of my matchup... Having him back, quarterbacking the power play, being that go-to guy, it's going to be huge... to be able to see him control a game the way he does is something special.
1:30 PM: Here's how the Sens are expected to line up to start tonight's game.

Conacher - Spezza - Michalek

Silfverberg - Turris - Alfredsson

Smith - Zibanejad - Neil

Greening - Pageau - Condra

Methot - Karlsson

Cowen - Gonchar

Benoi - Phillips

Craig Anderson is the confirmed starter in goal despite Robin Lehner's appearance in Game 2.

12:45 PM:
Erik Karlsson offered up some thoughts on his game ahead of Game 3.

On the Penguins' play:

Even if people said they had a hard time playing the Islanders they still won four games and twice in overtime. That proves they have depth and every opportunity they get, they're going to take advantage of it. They've got so much skill and everything that we have to respect that but, at the same time, show them no respect.
On his game:
I am not playing the way I want to. I've got to play a little bit more poised with the puck and a little bit faster in our own zone. I've got to move my feet a little bit more and find the position I'm usually in. Right now it's a little bit too much in between and I can't doubt myself.
On why things aren't working:
I don't know really what it is. It's a tough game out there and right now I don't think anything's making me play bad I just think it's more myself just not doing the things that I normally do and overthinking... Physically I feel great and I have no issues with anything I do. It's just a matter of trusting in myself and believing I can play almost the same way as I did before I got hurt.
On what feels off:
I think right now my timing is not where it's supposed to be. I have to stick to the decisions I make, even if its the wrong one sometimes. Right now I don't really trust what I do out there. I'm just going to go out and play the game and don't overthink it too much... Right now it's kind of in between. No matter if I make the right decision it gets wrong, if I make the wrong decision it still gets wrong so right now I've just got to play the odds and trust myself and go out and play. I can't really think too much.
On overthinking:
When it's not going the way you want it to go I think you overthink it a bit too much and you just go out there and see things that's just not there instead of just getting the puck and looking up and picking your first option.
On his frustrations:
I've been frustrated but now is not the time to be frustrated. I've just got to drop it. No matter what happens in this series I can reflect over that when the season is over.
On the 2013 injuries:
If we didn't get the injuries maybe some of the other guys wouldn't have stepped up and done such a good job or even get in. We are here because we worked hard and we never look back. Right now we just have to keep looking forward.
On home ice being a boost:
I hope so. I think we believe in ourselves in here, the crowd has been great and we're comfortable here for sure. We've just got to play the same way we always have here.
12:00 PM: Jason Spezza coming back is a really big deal judging by the hoard of people trying to talk to him. (There are more people out of the shot, too!)

9:30 AM: It's Game 3 Game Day in Ottawa and your Senators are awaiting the start of Game 3 with the Penguins tonight when the puck is dropped at 7:30 pm. The Sens gave the Pens everything they could handle in Game 2 but special teams once again proved to be the difference as Pittsburgh had six power play opportunities (with a goal on one and a second shortly after the expiration of another) to Ottawa's two.

The Sens will hit the ice at 10:00 am for their morning skate at Scotiabank Place. I'll have plenty of updates to follow including, but not limited to, lineup changes, players thoughts on tonight's game, Sens TV updates, Instagram goodness and more.

Stay tuned!

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