PITTSBURGH – Historically, the Ottawa Senators don’t fare well under the circumstances they’re now facing.
Only twice in their playoff history have the Senators rebounded from losing the opening game of a series to advance to the next round.
The first came back in 2002, when the Senators lost the first game to the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round and stormed back to win the ensuing four games – three via shutout by Patrick Lalime – before meeting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In 2003, the Senators lost the first round series opener to the New York Islanders, then went on to defeat the Flyers in round two before suffering a heart-breaking Game 7 loss to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals.
They’ve never won a series when dropping the opening two games.
On the flip side, however, is the fact the Penguins have lost their past four Game 2′s on home ice after winning the opening game. That includes dropping Game 2 to the New York Islanders in the first round.
“We’ve learned in the past how important it is for us to come out in Game 2 and put Game 1 behind us,” said Penguins winger James Neal. “Take the play to them and for us to dictate the way we want the game to go. In the past I think we’ve been a little complacent and not gone for it.”
Naturally, the Senators talked about raising their game from the series opening 4-1 defeat on Tuesday. In addition to improving on special teams – the Penguins went 2-for-4 with the man advantage and scored a shorthanded goal while the Senators went 0-for-5 – the Senators promise to be more physical, especially on the Penguins skilled players.
As expected, the Senators will make a pair of lineup changes.
Guillaume Latendresse steps in for Matt Kassian and will start the game on left wing on a line with centre Zack Smith and right winger Chris Neil. On defence, Andre Benoit will replace Eric Gryba, who suffered an upper body injury when he ran into Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik in the series opener.