Confident Senators return home eager for more goals vs Pens
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — They have split two games scoring a combined three goals.
They have limited the Pittsburgh Penguins to two goals.
They have gone 1-1 on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champions in the Eastern Conference final.
Now all the Ottawa Senators want going into Game 3 at home on Wednesday is more:
More wins. More offense. More getting under the Penguins’ skin.
“It’s a tight series, and we grabbed a win on the road,” defenseman Marc Methot said Tuesday. “I mean, had you asked us if we’d be in this position or we’d enjoy being in this position a couple months back, I’m pretty sure we’d take it. We have an opportunity now to get home and play in front of our great fans, and the building will be rocking. That’s something that we’re looking forward to.”
Ottawa rode its defense in a 2-1 overtime win Saturday and played hard in a 1-0 loss Monday. Holding opponents in check, keeping them away from their sweet spots, getting strong goaltending from Craig Anderson are all big parts of the team’s identity.
Pittsburgh surged in the third period of Game 2 and controlled play but struggled to create key chances in tight.
“It’s hard to get to the net against these guys,” Penguins center Nick Bonino said. “They have five guys in the house.”
Ottawa had to scramble to hold fast, with Phil Kessel’s deciding goal coming in the third when Anderson said he caught an edge with his skate and wasn’t able to move to his left to stop the puck. The Senators know they will probably need more than one goal per game to win the series.
“I think we learned a few things,” center Tom Pyatt said. “We played a solid defensive game, kept them on the outside. But I think they spent a little too much time in our zone, and, obviously, we need a better offensive effort for Game 3.”
The Senators want to do that without trying to morph into an offensive juggernaut or get into a track meet with the speedy Penguins.
“I want to push, but the Stanley Cup champion is on the other side there,” coach Guy Boucher said. “We’re not going to stomp all over them. If we get into an offensive contest, well, we can give them the series right now. We’ve got to know what we are, and we’ve got to know what we’re able to do. This is as hard as these guys have pushed all year, and that’s why the two teams are going toe-to-toe, and it’s one-goal games, because both teams are defending well, both teams are trying to create what they can.”
Kessel’s goal came after TV cameras caught him barking at teammates, including linemate Evgeni Malkin, who downplayed any lingering effect.
“We’re emotional guys,” Malkin said. “After the game, we were fine. Sometimes we lose our minds on a couple of shifts, but after we get a little bit of rest, a commercial break, we talk to each other and we start playing (harmoniously).”
Notes: Pittsburgh wingers Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz all have upper-body injuries and are day-to-day. All traveled to Ottawa … Senators winger Viktor Stalberg (lower-body injury) could return as early as Wednesday and defenseman Mark Borowiecki (lower-body injury) is also getting close.
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