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Sens @ Penguins - Game #1 Preview

by Craig Medaglia @craigmedaglia / Ottawa Senators

The Sens are in Pittsburgh set to kick off the Eastern Conference Final tonight against the Penguins at 7 p.m.

After clinching their spot in the NHL's final four on Tuesday against the Rangers, the Senators now see their path to the Stanley Cup Final go through the defending champions something that Sens captain Erik Karlsson addressed after yesterday's team skate.

"They're in this position because they are a good team," Karlsson said on Friday. "They won last year, have tonnes of experience and they know what they have to do to be successful. It's going to be up to us to focus on ourselves and the things that we need to do to shut them down."

Karlsson has been superb for the Sens so far this post-season (more on that below) but playing this deep into the playoffs remains uncharted waters for the majority of the team.

"I think this series is going to bring us a lot of experience," the captain continued. "We're in the learning process and we're going to learn how to win this one. The success we've had so far in these playoffs has helped us a lot and is something that we feel we deserve."

"It's going to be a fun series. They're a fun team to play against and they play fun hockey."

Sens head coach Guy Boucher provided a few small line-up updates yesterday after the team's practice in Ottawa and he's hopeful to have Viktor Stalberg, who sat out the skate, available for Game 1. The news isn't as promising for Mark Borowiecki who has been side-lined with a lower body injury he suffered in Game 2 of the first round. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though and the coach shared they Borowiecki could be available midway through this series.

Video: May 12: Practice Media - Guy Boucher

 

Previous game

Rewind back to March 23rd in Ottawa when the Sens rallied in the third period to eventually beat the Penguins in a shootout. Mike Hoffman notched his 22nd goal of the season midway through the final frame before Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan scored on consecutive shootout attempts to finish the Penguins off in the skills competition. Erik Karlsson, who assisted on Hoffman's power play goal, recorded his 7th point (1G + 6A) of the season-series against Pittsburgh leading the Sens to a 2-1 record this year against the Penguins.

Full highlights from that game are available below...

Video: Turris, Ryan help Senators top Penguins in SO

 

Sens to watch

All eyes seem to be fixed on the Senators' captain leading up to the Eastern Conference Final and with good reason. Karlsson currently leads the Sens in points (13), assists (11), plus/minus (+8) and TOI/GP 28:56 during the post-season and has been the offensive catalyst the team has relied on through the first two rounds. Karlsson is also tops among defencemen in playoff points, something that Callum Fraser touched on yesterday in his "By The Numbers" look at the team's second round series victory against the New York Rangers.

After the 26-year-old led the league in time on ice per game in the first round with an average of 30 minutes and 23 seconds every night, he was second to only Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh in round two. Karlsson's average of 27 minutes and 29 seconds every game in the second round, as usual, was key to Ottawa's success. It's hard to beat a team four times in a best-of-seven if they have Erik Karlsson on the ice for nearly half the game.
Possession-wise, Karlsson had another dominant series. His plus-28 Corsi rating at five-on-five was tops on the team for the second round in a row.

 

Broadcast

You've got plenty of options tonight as CBC, Sportsnet, NBS and TVAS will all carry tonight's game. If you're looking to get out of the house be sure to consult our list of official Sens Army Headquarters for the playoffs here.

Our friends at the Casino Lac-Leamy are also hosting a massive watch party in The Zone tonight so definitely check that out if you love having an awesome time and love fun and prizes.

Tweet from @Senators: Join the @CasinoLacLeamy to watch Game #1 at 7 p.m. on Saturday in The Zone! Fun, prizes and an awesome atmosphere filled with #Sens fans! pic.twitter.com/028361M8Su

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