Brandon Sutter hoping faceoff slump is over

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OTTAWA -- Brandon Sutter was one of the Penguins' go-to guys for faceoffs in the regular season, handling more draws than any teammate except Sidney Crosby and winning 50.2 percent of them.

He struggled much of the first-round series against the New York Islanders, winning more than he lost just twice in six games and finishing the series 40-45.

Sutter regained his form early in the Penguins' second round against Ottawa and took a 37-27 mark into Game 4 at Scotiabank Place Wednesday night.

That included a 21-15 mark in the double-overtime loss in Game 3 after going 7-5 in the series opener and 9-7 in Game 2.

"Game to game, it's different," Sutter said Wednesday. "Different players [as faceoff opponents]. For every player, there's a different thing you like to do, or a couple of things you like to do. Some nights, you get the bounces, some nights you don't.

"It's funny, because it's game to game. One game, you'll struggle really bad. The next game, against the same guys, you'll do really well. It's tough to get that consistency. That's the challenge."

The Penguins, of course, play a puck-possession style, and there's no better way to control the puck than to get it from a faceoff.

"It definitely is good when you feel like you're snapping them back [to your teammates] and you're winning lots," Sutter said. "It changes the whole [complexion] of the game."

College ties revisited

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who played at Boston College, said it has crossed his mind that Senators defenseman Eric Gryba attended Boston University.

Gryba has not played since Orpik felled him with an open-ice hit in Game 1, but he took part in the game-day skate Wednesday.

"Nobody really brought it up to me. Not any BC or BU friends that I have," Orpik said. "Hopefully, he's just banged up a little bit, and it's not anything major. They don't give you much information this time of year. Hopefully, it's just a shoulder and not a head injury or anything."

Orpik's final season at BC was in 2001, but Gryba finished at BU in 2010.

Ticket master

Senators defenseman Marc Methot, born and raised in Ottawa, joked about how he handles ticket requests from his family and friends.

"I set the tone early with my family and buddies," he said. "I told them if they want anything at all, give me a couple of weeks in advance. I'm not going to be buying tickets for everybody every game here. Otherwise, I won't be making any money here."

Methot said his friends are resourceful and believes they can land tickets on their own, but he'll help out in a pinch.

"Everybody knows people in the city," he said. "There's ways of getting tickets for games when there are big ones and [if] people are in a jam I'll buy them. Otherwise, you give tickets to one buddy, you've got 10 others who are like, 'Hey man, give me some.' "

No surprises

The survivor of the Penguins-Senators series will advance to the Eastern Conference final, where Boston is nearly certain to be waiting. The Bruins have a 3-0 lead in their second-round series against the New York Rangers, and history suggests that pretty much guarantees them a spot in the next round.

Only three teams have lost a series after winning the first three games: Detroit in 1942, the Penguins in 1975 and the Bruins in 2010.

Although the Bruins-Rangers series had been widely predicted to be long and highly competitive, the Penguins say they aren't surprised by Boston's chokehold on it, if only because the playoffs can be so volatile.

"I don't think there are any surprises in the playoffs," Sutter said. "Anything can happen in the playoffs."

Tip-ins

The Penguins made their game-day skate optional, and many of their most prominent players -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin, among others -- chose to stay off the ice. ... Methot, asked whether goalie Craig Anderson or captain Daniel Alfredsson is more warmly received by the Scotiabank Place crowd: "I like to think I'm catching up to both."

mobilehome - penguins

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


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