New venue for Crosby show

Senators centre Mike Fisher, responding to questions during a press conference Saturday at...

Senators centre Mike Fisher, responding to questions during a press conference Saturday at Scotiabank Place, can expect to see a lot of Penguins star Sidney Crosby in Game 3 on Sunday night. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 PM ET

The Senators’ job has come down to this: Contain Sid the Kid ... or else.

Tied 1-1 with the Penguins as the series shifts to Ottawa Sunday for Game 3, the Senators probably woke up Saturday with visions of Sidney Crosby dancing in their heads after his dazzling Game 2 performance Friday in Pittsburgh.

While Crosby has been in on five of the Penguins’ six goals, the Senators believe they have minimized his opportunities.

The Hart Trophy candidate, whose 51 goals tied him for the league lead with Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, was nothing short of brilliant setting up the game-winning goal by Kris Letang at 15:48 of the third period as he escaped a solid checking job by Ottawa centre Jason Spezza.

Shutting down Crosby completely is impossible, but the Senators proved in Game 1 he can be neutralized.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, who is on the ice most of the time with partner Anton Volchenkov when Crosby hops over the boards.

“Even on the goal (Crosby) set up (Friday), Spezza was all over him and did everything he could. (Crosby) just found the open man. We’ve talked about that before. It’s going to happen.

“We can do our best to slow him down, but he’s a great player and he’s going to create his chances.”

In Game 1, Crosby had three assists in a 5-4 loss to Ottawa, but two of those were second assists on the power play. He was also held to only two shots.

In Game 2, Crosby picked it up a notch or four.

“For the most part, (Crosby) hasn’t had a lot of chances. He’s just been real opportunistic and buried them. That’s what we expect. We know he’s going to be good,” said Spezza.

With the series switching to Ottawa, the Senators will have the last change at Scotiabank Place. That guarantees coach Cory Clouston will get the matchup he wants.

If the Senators can’t stop Crosby then, well, good luck.

“Obviously, we’ve got to try to limit his time and space,” said Senators centre Mike Fisher, who will likely see a lot of Crosby during Games 3 and 4. “And, he hasn’t gotten a ton of scoring chances, but he’s good at creating things and opening up time and space for his linemates.

“We just have to be conscious of when he’s on the ice and try to play the right way against him.”

Crosby, who opened the scoring for the Penguins in the first period by getting to a loose puck and backhanding past goalie Brian Elliott, has a knack for coming up big when his team needs him most (just ask Ryan Miller and the Americans).

“Overall I think we’ve done a pretty good job defensively,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Clouston said the Senators have to take away Crosby’s time and space.

“Don’t let him attack as much. When you’re in your zone, you’re not going to have a lot of success,” said Clouston, who gave the players Saturday off. “We didn’t make them defend near enough. So when we have the puck, we’ve got to make sure we manage it better and be more of an attack team.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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