Penguins Notebook: Roberts vs. Senators ... it's not personal

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You can forgive the Ottawa Senators for thinking it's personal.

Considering all the headaches (many of them literal) and heartaches Gary Roberts has caused for Ottawa during the past decade, how could the Senators possibly feel otherwise?

But that isn't the case, Roberts said yesterday. He has done so well, so often against Ottawa -- including scoring twice in the Penguins' 4-0 series-opening victory against the Senators Wednesday at Mellon Arena -- because he really hasn't had much choice.

"I've played Ottawa a lot in the last eight years in the playoffs," he said. "If I didn't have success against [the Senators], I wouldn't have success against anybody."

For the record, Roberts has recorded 23 of his 91 career playoff points in 24 games against the Senators.

Roberts, who was 41 years, 322 days old during Game 1, became the oldest player to get multiple goals in an NHL playoff game, taking that distinction from Detroit center Igor Larionov, who did it at age 41 years, 198 days in 2002.

Roberts, only days removed from a 43-game absence caused by a broken leg and high ankle sprain, skated by himself before the Penguins practiced yesterday, but did not participate in the workout.

"I think he earned it," coach Michel Therrien said, smiling.

Roberts described it as "just a little rest day," and he is scheduled to be in uniform when the Penguins and Senators meet in Game 2 tonight at 7:08 at Mellon Arena. Still, he suggested that the workout yesterday won't necessarily be the only one he sits out this spring.

"It's going to be a process for me," he said.

"I'm not going to be able to do it all at once here and try to get my conditioning back to where it needs to be."

Laraque praises Whitney

While Penguins enforcer Georges Laraque isn't ready to ask for fighting pointers from defenseman Ryan Whitney, he does have something for Whitney in the wake of his skirmish with Senators defenseman Wade Redden late in Game 1: Praise, because of the way Whitney stepped in to defend Sidney Crosby.

"I thought at first it was [Ryan] Malone or someone," Laraque said. "When I saw it was Whitney, I was surprised."

The fight with Redden, which Whitney won convincingly, was just his second in the NHL.

He had a spirited bout with Philadelphia's Jeff Carter in the regular season, but did not fare as well as he did against Redden.

Fleury gets a souvenir

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury earned his first career playoff shutout Wednesday.

Predictably, he said he was "just happy to get the win," but there was at least one tangible reward for stopping all 26 shots the Senators threw at him.

"I got to keep the puck for my collection," Fleury said.

Although Fleury had to make only a few big-time saves -- he hustled across the crease to deny ex-Penguin Randy Robitaille in the first period, then stopped Cory Stillman from the slot just as Ottawa's first five-on-three power play was expiring -- shutting out the Senators was his latest step toward shedding his reputation for lackluster performances in high-stakes games.

"All that pressure from before, of [not] winning playoff games, it's vanished," center Max Talbot said.

"I talked to him a lot [during the day Wednesday], and he was like, 'I feel no pressure. I'm just there. I want to do my job.' And he was amazing."

A seven-shot night

Penguins winger Marian Hossa is another who has been criticized for underachieving in the playoffs, but he was pretty visible in Game 1 despite managing only one assist.

He had seven shots on goal -- three more than any teammate -- and was robbed by Senators goalie Martin Gerber several times, including once from the left hash mark.

"He made just an unbelievable save," Hossa said.

Despite his inability to get a goal, Hossa said he was largely satisfied with the way he and linemates Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis played.

"We created lot of offense," he said. "Our line didn't score, but there were some positives."


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