The Ottawa Senators are down to the wire in their postseason lives, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins two games to none in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. They come home for the next two games, but the Penguins have appeared dominant at times, and their saving grace -- goaltender Craig Anderson -- has looked average at best. Clearly, Ottawa is a team in need of a boost.
The Senators will get one -- or at least they'll expect to get one -- for Sunday night's Game 3. Jason Spezza, a two-time All-Star who had 84 points the last full season he played, has been cleared and will return to the lineup on Sunday. Spezza last played on Jan. 27 before undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disc. He participated in only five prior games this season, missing 50 if you combine the regular season and playoffs.
Spezza can provide a lot for the Senators if he's right. He's turned into not only an excellent, consistent scorer (51 points in 53 career playoff games), but can win key faceoffs as well. The Senators are desperate at this point -- a loss effectively puts them on life support -- so a chance to get, ostensibly, their best player back is something you can't pass up if he's healthy enough. It's a twist that turns Sunday night's game into a really intriguing one, just to see how a finally full-strength Sens team matches up with Pittsburgh.