Penguins Notebook: Neil hits back at Orpik, sort of


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OTTAWA -- Rugged winger Chris Neil dished out 10 hits in Ottawa's 2-1 double-overtime victory Sunday night against the Penguins, but one he took from Brooks Orpik in the corner sent him off the ice in the second overtime.

Neil's status was unclear for more than 24 hours until he said Tuesday after practice at Scotiabank Place that he feels great and is ready to go tonight in Game 4.

He stopped just short of calling out Orpik on the play, but made it clear he did not approve.

The play happened at 4:30 of the second overtime, when Neil, on the forecheck, appeared to lose his footing in the corner as Orpik, chasing the puck, hit him. Neil went down and into the boards with force.

"I was going down and I was in a vulnerable position," Neil said. "He gave me an extra shove, [because of] which I picked up speed going into the boards.

"It is what it is. It's playoff hockey, and one of those things that if he was in that situation I probably wouldn't have shoved him there. The way he plays, he plays a physical game, and I don't expect anything less from him."

When pressed on whether he would call it a dirty play, Neil stopped short.

"I think if it's regular season, he doesn't do that," Neil said. "It's playoffs. You know your intensity is high out there, trying to finish checks, you see a guy down.

"Put it this way, I wouldn't have done that to him to put him in that situation. It's lucky I'm no worse for the wear and able to keep going."

Orpik did not have much to say.

"He's a guy who plays hard," he said. "He's a competitive guy. Everybody knows how he plays. He's out there to agitate. I don't have much to say about it. He gets away with a lot. Let's put it that way."

Call him the glue man

Colin Greening's winner Sunday wasn't his first goal of these playoffs.

Or his second.

Fact is, it was his third of the series, which means he has been the Senators' top offensive threat against the Penguins so far.

Tuesday, Greening attributed his recent outburst to "good passes from my teammates," although coach Paul MacLean offered a different explanation.

"A lot of the time in the playoffs, it's a big man's game," he said. "And he's a big man."

Greening, by the way, said there was undue attention paid to the gash on his cheek that had been caused by a high stick earlier in Game 3.

"It was made out to be a lot worse than it really was," he said. "There was really not much [fiberglass] in there, but the doctors had to take precautions. They said there were really, really small pieces, but they said they had to be taken out."

He added that the wound had to be temporarily closed, albeit not by stitches, before he returned to the game.

"They did a good job of gluing it back together," he said. "When we went to overtime, they put a little more glue on it, and I was good to go."

Major moment in minors

Game 4 obviously is huge for the Penguins, but their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre will play a bigger one tonight. After losing the first three games of a best-of-seven against Providence, the Baby Penguins have run off three victories in a row to force a Game 7 tonight in Rhode Island.

Of the 126 clubs in Calder Cup history to drop Games 1-3, the Baby Penguins are the fourth to take their series to a seventh game. Rochester (1960) and Adirondack (1989) capped their comeback with victories in Game 7, while Hamilton (2011) lost.

Tip-ins

Winger Brenden Morrow left practice Tuesday early, but coach Dan Bylsma declined to explain his departure. ... The Penguins will collect money before Game 5 Friday at Consol Energy Center to benefit victims of the Oklahoma tornado. Donations will go to the American Red Cross.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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