Share This Page

'Pesky' Senators continue to show their resolve

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 11:03 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Matt Cooke battles the Senators' Erik Karlsson for the puck during the second period on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Matt Cooke battles the Senators' Erik Karlsson for the puck during the first period Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

The Ottawa Senators might not be as talented as the Penguins — certainly not on the offensive end — but they do possess several attributes. For one thing, they are known as a gritty, resourceful bunch that keeps beating the odds.

But don't call them overachievers.

“The word we like to use is ‘pesky,' ” winger Erik Condra said.

Coach Paul MacLean probably used other words to his team after the Penguins beat the Senators, 4-1, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday.

Ottawa admittedly was outhit and outhustled. But during a shortened, difficult season and then in the first-round of the playoffs, the club has persevered through numerous challenges.

Trailing in the series, 1-0, even against a club as good as the Penguins, is not likely to faze the Senators.

“We just keep coming,” said Condra, a third-year player. “The good thing about our team is you don't know who's gonna step up.”

Other than captain Daniel Alfredsson, a 17-year veteran winger, defenseman Erik Karlsson and perhaps one or two others, “We don't have too many known guys,” Condra said. “But every night there's somebody else that steps up, and that's what's been great about us.”

Injuries threatened to torpedo the Senators' season. Instead, they won five straight at the finish and seven of nine overall to gain the No. 7 seed. Then they blasted second-seeded Montreal out of the first round in five games.

But consider:

Center Jason Spezza, a 10-year vet, played just five games before undergoing back surgery Feb. 1 and has yet to play. He is skating again — in Ottawa — and his return date is uncertain.

Goalie Craig Anderson, who led the league in goals-against and save percentage this season, missed 18 of the 48 regular-season games with a sprained ankle. And Karlsson, last year's Norris Trophy winner, suffered a torn Achilles tendon Feb. 13.

Hardly anyone believed he would play again this season. But Karlsson returned for the playoffs after missing the final 31 regular-season games. He has yet to regain his pre-injury form, but such a swift recovery bordered on incredible.

“Obviously, I hoped I was gonna play more this year,” Karlsson said. “It didn't look good for a long period of time, but here I am, and at least I'm standing up.”

Third-year defenseman Jared Cowen (41 games) and veteran winger Milan Michalek (24 games) also missed considerable action. But the Senators got strong contributions from several young players, including J.G. Pageau, Eric Gryba and Mika Zibanejad.

“A lot of young guys have come up and really stepped in and played the right way and played good for us,” Alfredsson said.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.