Penguins in fowl mood

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — It didn’t take long for Sidney Crosby to get a hate on for the Senators.

While the Penguins captain rarely says anything controversial, Crosby told reporters Thursday he didn’t feel Pittsburgh players disliked the Senators enough before Wednesday’s Game 1 loss, but they sure do now.

“We didn’t come in here expecting to win four straight,” said Crosby. “We haven’t played Ottawa for a long time, we have a history with them in the playoffs and I don’t think the not liking them was really there because of the long period since we played them. But that’s definitely there now.”

Crosby’s words aren’t exactly bulletin board material, but it’s an indication the Senators frustrated Sid the Kid and rest of the defending Stanley Cup champions in Game 1. Ottawa can expect an onslaught from the Penguins in Game 2.

Centre Jason Spezza said dislike between teams builds up over the course of a series.

“I don’t think they liked us, but that’s always the way it is,” said Spezza. “The series grows with each game and there are always little subplots and more hatred.

“This is the fun part of the playoffs. It’s the great thing about playing a team over and over again. I’m sure they’re trying to bring up some emotion and put a hate on for us. It’s the same in our room.”

Senators GM Bryan Murray doesn’t believe in the hatred angle.

“Hatred is a little bit strong,” said Murray. “It’s great for you guys to write about and ask the players about. We’re competitors and Sidney is a competitor.

“We’ve got lots of people in our room that are (competitors). I think that’s what it is: We’re strong competitors with some emotion that will be ramped up a little bit. But to go to the extreme of hate, they’re all part of a union and they’ll all vote together for a new leader at some point in time.”

Strong at home

The Penguins haven’t lost two straight games at home to an Eastern Conference team in a playoff series since 2007 when the Senators beat them in Games 3 and 4 in Round 1.

That year, Ottawa beat Pittsburgh in five en route to a berth in the Stanley Cup final.

“We would expect that they are going to come out really hard,” said Spezza. “They are a team that obviously doesn’t want to lose both at home and they haven’t lost a lot of games in this rink.

“They are going to come out really hard and we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready to go to start the game. You would think they’ll come at us pretty hard, try to get a lead and try to push the pace of the play.”

The Senators have to expect the Penguins are going to rachet up their play after being held to only 21 shots in Game 1.

“We’re going to see a lot of them. We know they’re going to come at us hard. It was a back and forth (in Game 1). We got the better end of it and we want to make sure we come out and keep it that way,” said Ottawa winger Nick Foligno.

TOUGH CHALLENGE

Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby said it’s up to him to escape the cramping style of Ottawa Ds Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov. “That’s the way it works when you’ve got two guys on ‘D’ who want to take away your time and space,” said Crosby, who had only two shots in Game 1, but picked up three assists. “They don’t want to me to have the puck. That’s something I’ve got to do. If they are doing that, you’ve got other guys who are going to be open in most cases. That’s the best option. If they want to take away my space, hopefully we’re going to make them pay. That’s just hockey. You can’t shoot the puck with two guys in your face.”

THIs ’N’ THAT

Asked if he ever had any run-ins with Senators LW Jarkko Ruutu as a player, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said: “Other than the smirk on his face, I don’t remember much about them.” ... Pittsburgh backup G Brent Johnson missed practice Thursday with flu-like symptoms ... Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was given a maintenance day ... Penguins W Ruslan Fedotenko will likely be a healthy scratch in Game 2. He only played 10:50 in Game 1 and was a minus-1. If he’s out of the lineup, W Michael Rupp, a healthy scratch Wednesday, would sub in.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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