OTTAWA -- The Penguins' second-round playoff series against Ottawa relocates to Scotiabank Place tonight, and that means the Senators will have the usual advantages of playing at home, like a supportive crowd and coach Paul MacLean being able to make the final personnel changes.
Those are significant, of course, but heading into Game 3 at 7:38 p.m., the Penguins say there aren't many features that distinguish the arena from other NHL venues.
Nothing like the ultra-lively boards behind the nets at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, for example, or the raw hostility of fans in places such as the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"Just another rink that you go into," winger James Neal said.
Teammates, when pressed, did come up with a few minor distinctions.
Center Joe Vitale noted the building's location, about 20 miles from downtown Ottawa -- "It's really in the middle of nowhere," he said -- and left winger Matt Cooke brought up the way the venue is illuminated.
"If I remember correctly, the lighting's a little bit darker than it is in most arenas," he said. "But it's nothing to raise a stink about."
Anderson will return in goal
MacLean said Craig Anderson will be back in goal for Game 3.
Anderson was pulled Friday night just 1:15 into the second period after surrendering three goals to Sidney Crosby. MacLean said later Friday night that the move was not about Anderson, but giving the team a jolt.
In 81 minutes over two games against the Penguins, Anderson has given up seven goals, has a 5.18 goals-against average and a .863 save percentage.
New equation for Niskanen
The Penguins aren't shy about changing personnel combinations, be it up front or on the blue line, and one recent switch landed defenseman Matt Niskanen on a pairing with Kris Letang.
Working with him puts a strong defensive emphasis on Niskanen's duties because Letang's ability to get involved offensively is one of his greatest strengths.
"Being aware of when [Letang] is being aggressive up the ice, I've got to be more responsible to let him do what he does," Niskanen said.
That's a significant difference from when Niskanen worked alongside Douglas Murray who, his two goals in Round 1 aside, earns his living working in his own end.
"[Letang] has got to be aggressive and do what he does well," Niskanen said. "If he's going to be able to do that, I've got to be a reliable partner always in the position.
"Play well, be there to support him and be in the right position and he can play his game."
Vitale knows his role
Vitale was a healthy scratch the first four games of Round 1, but has contributed an assist and seven hits in his first four games back. He also has won 56.1 percent of his faceoffs while adding speed, energy and grit.
That doesn't mean he's unduly confident about having a permanent place in the lineup.
"I don't think I'm ever solidified," he said. "You look at the depth on this team. There's so much talent from one to four [lines] and the extras.
"It's kind of having that desperate mentality every time I play [that] any night I could be out again. That's kind of been my motivation since I got back in. It's gone well since then, so I'm hoping to keep it going."
Vitale is centering the fourth line and averaging nine minutes, 39 seconds of ice time.
It was next to nothing
At this point of the playoffs, almost no player is 100 percent healthy. Some, though, are more visibly injured than others.
Witness Penguins winger Craig Adams, who is reporting for work with an ugly, bright-red welt under his left eye. It certainly isn't a lost-time injury, though, and is one Adams seems to deem barely worthy of mention.
"Just went into the boards," he said.
Another D joins the fold
The Penguins signed former Cornell defenseman Nick D'Agostino to a two-year entry-level contract, the team announced Saturday.
The 6-foot-2, 197-pound D'Agostino was a seventh-round pick (210 overall) by the Penguins in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He scored six goals and had 17 points in 34 games for the Big Red. He is a native of Bolton, Ontario.
First Published May 19, 2013 4:00 AM