OTTAWA, CANADA - MAY 19: James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against Andre Benoit #61 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Place on May 19, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Senators confident they can beat Penguins


The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings were dominate in their own building during the regular season, so it’s not surprising that the home team has won every game of their second-round series. With their series now essentially a best-of-three, the onus is on the Sharks to win at least one playoff contest at the Staples Center.

In the meantime though…

Ottawa Senators host Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Pittsburgh leads series 2-1

The Senators certainly lived up to their “pesky” label in Game 3. Pittsburgh nearly went up 3-0 in the series, but a shorthanded goal from Daniel Alfredsson with just 29 seconds left in regulation time tied the contest at 1. Colin Greening then netted the deciding goal for Ottawa at 7:39 of the second overtime period.

“We find ways — they aren’t always pretty — but we find ways to win,” Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson told the Ottawa Citizen.

Now they have to find a way to do it again.

Alfredsson’s dramatic goal was only relevant because, for the first time in this series, the Senators found a way to contain the Penguins’ skilled forwards.

Sidney Crosby, who had a hat trick in Game 2, was held to just three shots on goal despite logging 33:08 minutes of ice time. Evgeni Malkin had 10 shots on goal, but Anderson consistently denied him to end Malkin’s nine-game points streak.

It will be interesting to see if Crosby and Malkin are both held off the scoresheet for a second straight game, but perhaps the bigger x-factor is James Neal. The 25-year-old forward has 61 goals in his last 120 regular season games, but he has just one goal and three points in the 2013 postseason. If he can get hot now, it would take some of the burden off of Malkin and Crosby going forward.

Meanwhile, the Senators are entering this game with a lot of confidence.

“You have to believe you belong here,” said defenseman Marc Methot. “Otherwise, what the hell are you doing? I can’t stress enough that guys in this room do believe that we can win. We just knocked off the second seed (the Montreal Canadiens) in the first round.”

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.