ECQF Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators

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It's sort of like the series is starting over as a best-of-five tonight, except Ottawa has home-ice advantage, Pittsburgh has momentum, and both teams have a lot of unfriendly feelings towards one another. The mutual

Today's Special: Hate, with a side of violence
Yesterday, everyone was talking about Andy Sutton's mother-of-all-hits on Jordan Leopold, and the reaction of players to that hit. Today, so far, the talk of the towns has been the dialing up of they physical play--a somewhat scary probability given how physical the series had already been. Jay McKee steps into the lineup in Leopold's place, giving a bit more size and a lot more experience to the Penguins blueline, so he'll certainly help add to the mayhem. Still, the Senators have room for improvement in their physical play from last game, and getting a more aggressive forecheck will definitely wear down the Pens defence--particularly the likes of Alex Goligoski, Kris Letang, and Sergei Gonchar.

Most Improved Players: The goalies
Both goaltenders really improved from game one to game two, and both will have to be similarly strong tonight. The Senators will more than likely throw everything they have at the Penguins early in the game, so the Pens will be counting on Marc-Andre Fleury to hold them in the game for the first few minutes. If he does, though, and the Pens withstand the Sens' offensive, it might be trouble for Ottawa.

Determination is spelled C-R-O-S-B-Y
Plain and simple, the Penguins won game two because of Sidney Crosby. If he can't stand up and deliver tonight, will Evgeni Malkin--who was nearly invisible in game two--fill in? Or will Jordan Staal step up when the team needs him, after two quiet games so far?

Ottawa's Most Wanted: Offence
Sure, the Senators' top offensive line has combined for six points, but they still need to provide more offence than they are. Even if it doesn't show up on the scoreboard, the top line needs to get more sustained pressure in the Penguins' zone, not only to create their own chances, but as a preventive measure to keep Pittsburgh from getting chances. Similarly, Ottawa second line of Mike Fisher, Nick Foligno, and Matt Cullen need to bring it offensively: They've got two points between the three of them.

As always, join us in the comments section for all you want to know about which most recent goal scorer Mark Parisi loves the most.

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