Sens need an of­fen­sive spark

The Daily Observer - - SPORTS -

PITTS­BURGH — They have split two games scor­ing a com­bined three goals.

They have limited the of­fen­sively gifted Pitts­burgh Pen­guins to two goals.

They have gone 1-1 on the road against the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons to start the best-of­seven East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal.

Now all the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors want go­ing into Game 3 on Wed­nes­day at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre is more.

More wins. More of­fence. More get­ting un­der the Pen­guins’ skin.

“It’s a tight se­ries, and we grabbed a win on the road,” de­fence­man Marc Methot said Tues­day be­fore the Sen­a­tors flew home. “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’s de­fence was pretty much as ad­ver­tised in a 2-1 over­time win Satur­day and 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 cen­tre 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 Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors’ for­ward Mike Hoff­man skates off the ice af­ter be­ing shut out by the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in Game 2 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal dur­ing the 2017 NHL Stan­ley Cup Play­offs at PPG Paints Arena on Monday in Pitts­burgh. The Pen­guins de­feated the Sen­a­tors 1-0 to ties the se­ries 1-1.

An­der­son said he caught an edge with his skate and wasn’t able to move to his left to stop the puck.

On of­fence, scor­ing a goal a game prob­a­bly isn’t go­ing to suf­fice for the Sen­a­tors mov­ing ahead. That be­came even clearer Monday, when Ot­tawa had a stretch in the sec­ond and third pe­ri­ods of nearly the equiv­a­lent of a full pe­riod without a shot.

“I think we learned a few things,” cen­tre Tom Py­att said. “We didn’t gen­er­ate a lot of of­fence. 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 fleet 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 show­ing im­mense frus­tra­tion on the bench and bark­ing at team­mates, in­clud­ing line­mate Ev­geni Malkin, in an an­i­mated way.

While the Sen­a­tors were dis­ap­pointed that the Pen­guins were able to chan­nel that emo­tion into a win­ning goal, they would be happy to keep rat­tling Pitts­burgh.

“Any­time your op­po­nent is go­ing to get frus­trated, that’s a good thing,” Methot said. “They still won the game ... they ended up scor­ing and it was as­sisted by the guy he was yelling at (Malkin).

“It’s hard to say it’s work­ing against you. I think any­time you’re show­ing a lit­tle emo­tion, that’s a

good thing. And at the same time, sure, you want to frus­trate your op­po­nent. I think we’re do­ing that with how tight de­fen­sively we’ve been play­ing, and that’s also a pos­i­tive.”

Malkin sug­gested there won’t be any car­ry­over to Game 3 as far as the Pen­guins be­ing frus­trated, and that the Sen­a­tors’ smoth­er­ing style did not drive a wedge be­tween him and Kes­sel.

“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).”

GRE­GORY SHAMUS/GETTY IM­AGES

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