In Game 2, Penguins must escape the Senators’ trap

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The Pittsburgh Penguins looked out of sync in losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday.

That’s what the Ottawa Senators and their 1-3-1 trap can do to teams — even teams as talented as the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Game 2 goes tonight at PPG Paints Arena, and to avoid a 2-0 series deficit, the Pens need to find a way to beat that trap.

“We’ve got strategies and ways that we’ve been talking about in the locker room,” said forward Bryan Rust. “Being able to recognize situations and when to do certain things, that’s key against this team.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t share any specific strategies either, but expect to see some adjustments.

“I think after Game 1s, both sides get a real indication of what the game plans are,” said Sullivan. “So I think it gives coaching staffs an opportunity to not only assess not only their own team but also to try to assess their respective opponents and make the necessary adjustments they need to be able to make in order to help the group have success.”

Games 3 and 4 are in Ottawa, so the Penguins should be desperate for a win tonight. The question is whether they’ll be able to use that desperation to their advantage, or if they’ll just keep falling into the Sens’ trap.

For Sullivan and his staff, it’s just the latest challenge in a postseason that’s already presented quite a few big ones.

“What I really like about our staff is that everybody speaks their mind, and we have some great discussions,” he said. “It’s one of the parts of the job I really love is the internal debate and discussions around various topics, whether it be system stuff or personnel or line combinations. We have some great discussions.”

Related: Senators stress ‘pack mentality’ defense is key to slowing down Penguins