Sens hope to roar back into action

Ottawa Senators Colin Greening (L) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates...

Ottawa Senators Colin Greening (L) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Bobby Butler (C) and Jason Spezza during the third period of their NHL game in Vancouver, British Columbia November 20 2011. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

Don Brennan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

PITTSBURGH - Theoretically, it was not a good time for the Senators to break.

 They had won three out of their last four, and in their fourth they took the Stanley Cup finalists to overtime for a point.

Nobody leaves the table when the cards are falling their way.

Except the Senators were ready to come home. They had played five games, spanning from Buffalo to Vancouver, in 10 days. They were fine with the opportunity to sit back for a bit.

“I think it will help,” winger Bobby Butler said of five-day respite that ends Friday with a game in Pittsburgh against the team that leads the Eastern Conference and sits just one point out of first overall in the NHL. “It gave us a couple of days to get energized. Hopefully we can continue where we left off.”

You’d think if anyone should have wanted to keep playing, it’d be Butler. He had just two assists in 10 games before visiting Calgary last Tuesday. With two goals and an assist in three games since, he has a hot stick. But he also didn’t mind putting it down for a while, either. At least those he uses in games.

“Had a couple of practices, got a chance to shoot some more pucks ... hopefully I can pick up where I left off,” said Butler.

“I think (getting some points) just helped my confidence, and now I think the practice is clutch, coming in and having a couple of days to try to feel it. I felt good this week. Hopefully, it just continues on in the games.”

Colin Greening was also on a roll. He scored in each of the last two games to give him six, equalling his total in 24 games with Ottawa last season. But he too cherished the break.

“I think we really needed that rest, to be honest,” said Greening. “There’s the three hours (difference) from the western time zone, I think we really had to get back on eastern time.

“I think it took me about a day or two. We flew back and got in about 5:30- 6 a.m Eastern time. You want to get back right away, so I went to bed for a couple of hours, got up at 9 and powered through the day. So I was pretty tired that day. It was a little bit of sleep depravation, but I think I’m pretty good right now.

“That’s pretty normal. Talk to anyone and I think they’ll tell you it takes a couple of days to get over the jet lag when you travel three time zones.”

Greening’s most recent day of practice turned out to be an uncomfortable one. During a power-play drill, he was standing in his spot at the edge of the crease when Jason Spezza wired a shot off his left wrist. Greening was in obvious pain, but after taking a minute he was back in front of the net.

“It was just like, tingly all over,” said Greening, who joked that Spezza should lay off the weights. “I was grabbing at it and it was painful ... I couldn’t really feel some areas. It was like, come on, get the feeling back.”

That’s what the Senators will be trying to do when they play in Pittsburgh Friday, too. Get the feeling back. The winning feeling.

MAKING POINTS

On his way back from a sprained ankle that has already cost him five games, RW Chris Neil skated for 20-30 minutes before the team practised Thursday. “Have to see how he handled that,” said coach Paul MacLean. “Right now, no timeline. He has to get to practice first.” ... As expected, Craig Anderson will start in goal against the Penguins ... The Senators like the way they’re moving the puck on the power play, but they’ve got to start moving it to the back of the net. They’ve converted just two of their last 30 chances, which is not very good at all. “I think we did a lot of work on it the last two days,” said MacLean. “The keys to it, I thought we stressed, was making sure we got some clean entries into the zone, and execute better with the puck, make sure we’re attacking the net. The more you get the puck to the net, the more second and third opportunities you create.” MacLean conceded that teams have done their homework on the Senators’ power play, which not long ago was ranked No. 1 in the league.


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