OTTAWA -- Perhaps the Ottawa Senators were trying to send a not-so-subtle message to the Penguins, to rekindle some unpleasant memories.
Or maybe the timing and placement were a complete coincidence, and there was nothing resembling an ulterior motive.
Whatever the case, an enormous photo near the Penguins' dressing room at Scotiabank Place that shows the handshake line after the Senators' series-clinching victory in their first-round meeting a year ago provoked some lively discussion after the game-day skates that preceded Game 3 of their rematch last night.
The photo, which includes a portion of the crowd and an electronic message board reading SENS WIN!!! in the background, actually went up before Ottawa knew it would be facing the Penguins in Round 1 again.
What's more, several Senators noted yesterday that the series was the only one they won on home ice in 2007, which made it a logical choice to be depicted.
Count center Sidney Crosby among the Penguins who shrugged off the photo as nothing more than Ottawa's attempt to celebrate a high point in its history.
"That was a big series for them last year," he said. "Obviously, it's not a great memory for us. It's just a coincidence that our team is in the picture."
The photo is on a wall in a common area between the home and visiting dressing rooms at Scotiabank Place, easily visible from the doorway to the Penguins' quarters.
"You got no choice [but] to see it," coach Michel Therrien said. "It's right there."
He added that the Penguins "don't need a big picture to remember what happened last year," but for some players, the photo tore scabs off psychological wounds the Senators inflicted last spring.
"I hope we get a chance to beat them up here in this series," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "And can take a new picture right in front of that one."
Several of Ottawa's elite forwards, particularly winger Dany Heatley and center Jason Spezza, received considerable criticism here for their lack of offensive output in Games 1 and 2.
Heatley was held to one assist, while Spezza was shut out in both games.
Therrien acknowledged that those two had little impact in the first two games, but said the Penguins' defensive play had a great deal to do with that.
"We believe our guys have played very well," he said. "A lot of those guys deserve credit. If we don't get the credit, that's OK. We play better defense than people think."
New York forward Sean Avery's latest stunt -- he stood facing New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur and waved his arms and stick in Brodeur's face during a five-on-three power play in the Devils' 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3 of that series Sunday -- was a major topic of discussion at yesterday's morning skates.
Some players were angry with Avery's actions, while others shrugged them off. Almost no one, however, seemed surprised that Avery had come up with another way to be annoying.
Turns out it wasn't an original one, however. Penguins left winger Jarkko Ruutu remembered a former Vancouver teammate, Todd Bertuzzi, doing something similar several times a few years ago.
"[Bertuzzi] tried the same thing with his hands and got a two-minute penalty for it," he said. "You can't do that. ... You have to let the goalie be able to see the puck."
Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations, obviously agreed, because a few hours later, he issued an advisory on how Rule 75 pertains to such situations.
It reads, "An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender, as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play."
Penguins left winger Gary Roberts was a surprise scratch for Game 3. Team officials said Roberts, who participated in the game-day skate, has a sore groin and is day-to-day.
His spot in the lineup was taken by Adam Hall, who made his first appearance of the series.
The Penguins' other scratches were forwards Jeff Taffe and Kris Beech, defensemen Darryl Sydor and Mark Eaton (knee) and goalie Dany Sabourin.
Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .