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Sens thrilled with superb play of 'great' Dane

KANATA, Ont. -- When Peter Regin arrived in Ottawa last season, about the only thing notable about him was that he's one of the few players from Denmark to play in the NHL.

Two years later, however, Regin has become the indispensible Dane in the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Regin, who just turned 24 last Friday, leads the Senators with 2 goals and is tied for the team lead with 3 points. His first-period goal in Game 1 started a three-goal outburst that carried the Senators to 5-4 victory, and he scored just 18 seconds into the 2-1 loss in Game 2. He nearly scored again in the last minute of the first period of Game 3, but the goal was waved off after it was ruled he kicked the puck into the net.

"It's been a lot fun," Regin said. "I'm trying to enjoy it and play as hard as I can."

"He was a competitive kid, he had good puck skills. We had seen him at the World Championships (he played for Denmark from 2004-08), and he looked like a player who could play against good players, NHL-type players. But after that, I can't say that whether he was going to be a whatever-line player."

-- Bryan Murray on Peter Regin

Regin's play has been enjoyable to those watching him. A 2004 third-round pick, the Senators allowed him to develop in Europe. He spent one more season with a team in Denmark, and then played three seasons with Timra IK in the Swedish Elite League. Regin finally came to North America last season, but spent most of it with the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, where he had 18 goals and 47 points in 56 games. He also had 2 points in 11 games with the Senators.

"We watched him play in the minors, and we knew he could skate," Senators General Manager Bryan Murray told NHL.com. "I don't know if we had any great expectations. We knew he could skate, we knew he was a player. But you can't pretend to know what level he was going to get to. He was a competitive kid, he had good puck skills. We had seen him at the World Championships (he played for Denmark from 2004-08), and he looked like a player who could play against good players, NHL-type players. But after that, I can't say that whether he was going to be a whatever-line player."

Regin started the season centering one of the bottom two lines, but through strong play and opportunity with injuries to Milan Michalek and Alexi Kovalev, he gained the chance to skate at left wing on a line with all-stars Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, and he's certainly taken advantage of it. He first joined Alfredsson and Spezza March 22 in a game against Montreal and scored the game-winning goal. He stayed there and added 3 goals and 7 points in the final nine games of the regular season, and his strong play has carried right over into the playoffs.

"I got thrown in there in the middle of a game and scored on my first shift with them," Regin said of the game against the Canadiens. "Usually when you score with guys, you stay with it. And we lost five games before that and we started winning a little bit and usually you never change a winning team. I was a little lucky getting in there at the right time and I was lucky to score right off the bat. That's how it is sometimes -- sometimes you need to be lucky when you get the chance."

Regin has been more than lucky. And he hasn't gotten caught up in the pressure that comes with playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time -- let alone starting the postseason on the road, against the defending Stanley Cup champion.

"I think, as any rookie, he was nervous before the first game, you don't know what to expect," Alfredsson said. "You hear how the intensity steps up big-time in the playoffs. Every little battle means a lot more. I think, too, him scoring in the first game probably settled him down, made him feel, 'OK, this is something I can handle,' and he's definitely done that."

"Sometimes you can tell," Mike Fisher added. "Guys that haven't played get a little over-anxious in the playoffs, they're different types of players. But he's been relaxed and poised and making good plays. I think the way he finished the season, playing on that top line, he's just carried that over and played really well."

Regin is enjoying his time in the playoff crucible. He said his favorite time of the season is playoff time, and his numbers in two playoff runs in Sweden were good -- 13 points in 18 games for a player at age 20 and 21.

"When it's the big games, that's when you have to be at your best," Regin said.

With Alfredsson and Spezza unable to put the puck in the net yet, the Senators will need more from Regin to overcome their 2-1 series deficit heading into Game 4 Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS)

"His strengths are his speed, his vision, his creativity, and I thought he's used that," coach Cory Clouston said. "He's elevated his game as much or more than anyone has."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com