Penguins Beat Senators 5-3, Lead Series 2-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins exploded for 54-shots against the Ottawa Senators, but it took 2-goals in the last 1:02 of regulation to break a 3-3 tie and give the Penguins the win and a 2-0 series lead.  Pittsburgh looked to be in complete control of the game and the series as they scored 3-unanswered goals through the first 30-minutes, but the Ottawa Senators finally bounced back with 3-unanswered goals of their own to tie the game and almost send it into overtime.  A late high-sticking call against the Senators would be the difference, however, as the Penguins capitalized on the man-advantage to break the tie and get the game winner.

In the 1st period, the Penguins offensively dominated the Senators and outshot them 20-8, but Martin Gerber stopped 19 of 20 to keep his team in the game.  The Penguins goal came at 16:10 on a 5-on-3 power play blast by Sergei Gonchar from near the blue line that rose up above Gerber’s shoulder and into the corner of the net.  Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin picked up the assists on the play with Gary Roberts providing a solid screen in front of Gerber.  The Penguins were 1-for-3 on the power play in the first.

In the 2nd period, the Penguins power play struck again at 5:22 to make it 2-0.  Petr Sykora tipped in a hard pass across the goal mouth from Evgeni Malkin at the half wall to beat Gerber.  Sidney Crosby had the other assist.  Then at 10:52, Sykora scored again on a another hard cross-ice pass from Evgeni Malkin to put the Penguins up 3-0.  The play was set up by Ryan Malone as he pressured the Sens to keep the puck in the zone.  But 38-seconds later, Ottawa got on the board on a simple tip-in by Shean Donovan that eluded Marc-Andre Fleury.  Chris Neal and Mike Commodore were credited with the assists.  Then at 16:11, Ottawa struck on the power play as Tyler Kennedy sat for a hooking call.  Cory Stillman beat Fleury with a wrister from 9ft out to make it 3-2.  Dany Heatley and Andrej Meszaros got the assists on the play.  The Penguins outshot the  Senators 20-11 in the 2nd, and were 1-for-2 on both the power play and the penalty kill. 

In the 3rd period, the Ottawa Senators found a way to tie it up as Cody Bass threw a wrister past Fluery to make it 3-3.  Randy Robitaille and Mike Commodore assisted on the equalizer.  But with just 1:14 left in a game that looked like it would be heading to overtime, Martin LaPointe’s stick got up into the eye of Jarkko Ruutu and sent him tumbling to the ice with a bit of salesmanship for a legitimate penalty.  Playing with the man advantage, Ryan Malone picked up the rebound from a Marian Hossa shot and quickly maneuvered behind the net to stuff in a wraparound and make it 4-3 with 1:02 left in the game.  The Penguins then kept the Senators hemmed in their own end so that Martin Gerber couldn’t get off the ice until there was just 9-seconds left in the game.  The Penguins then sealed the deal with an empty net goal by Ryan Malone at 19:53 to send the crowd into a frenzy.  Marian Hossa and Sidney Crosby got the assists on the final goal.   

Evgeni Malkin was a beast on the loose tonight, getting 3-assists and 8-shots on goal, including a couple of breakaways in which he drew two non-calls by the referees.  Malkin now has 6-points (1G, 5A) in 2-games.  He clearly made the difference in the game tonight.  Sidney Crosby somewhat quietly racked up 4-assists on the game for his first points of the playoffs.  Ryan Malone picked up 3-points (2G, 1A) and Petr Sykora continued his torrid play with 2-goals.  Marian Hossa contributed with 2-assists.  Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27-of-30 shots on net, but it was Martin Gerber with 49-saves on 54-shots that had the better night in net.  The Penguins seemed to fall back on their heels just a bit late in the 3rd before getting the late power play advantage, giving the Senators their first glimpse of any hope in the series after the Penguins had played with such confidence and dominance through the first 4.5 periods of playoff hockey.   But the Penguins continued to play their system and were not rattled by the pressure.  The Penguins outshot the Senators 14-11 in the final frame and were 1-for-1 on the power play.

With the win, the Penguins take an important 2-0 series lead to Ottawa on Monday with a chance to go up 3-0.  The Senators will likely look to build some momentum on their inspired play in the latter half of tonight’s game, as they managed to pick themselves and nearly got a chance to steal one in Pittsburgh.  The Penguins will be looking to tighten up their game and prevent the Senators from getting a taste of any Penguins blood.

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