A little over a week after the Pittsburgh Penguins signed him to a new 2-year contract, Tyler Kennedy’s actions spoke volumes about the decision. Kennedy scored the first goal in the Penguins’ season opener against the Ottawa Senators in Stockholm less than a minute into the game. He followed up by stripping the puck from Jason Spezza and getting the game winning goal with less than a minute to go in sudden death overtime. The goal averted a shootout and gave the Penguins a 4-3 win.
Kennedy’s first goal was scored just 40 seconds into the 1st period from his sweet spot near the circle to the goaltender’s right. Kennedy brought the puck around from behind the net, wheeled and fired, catching the inside of the net. Jordan Staal assisted on the goal. Midway through the period, the Senators tied it up on a goal by Shean Donovan at 9:13. The Penguins squandered 5-powerplay chances in the 1st period, never seeming able to break through the Senators’ aggressive defensive style. The period ended even in shots at 10 a side.
In the 2nd period, Evgeni Malkin took advantage of his new role as a penalty killer. With Brooks Orpik in the box, Malkin took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone and skated it in to beat Martin Gerber and make it 2-1. But the Penguins were unable to hold the lead as the Senators responded with goals by Dany Heatley at 12:15 (powerplay) and Jason Spezza at 17:55 (even strength). The Penguins committed 4-penalties in the second, including two that resulted in 1:30 of a 2-man down disadvantage that carried into the 3rd. The shots were again even at 12 per side.
In the 3rd, an unlikely hero managed to tie the game at 3-3. Rob Scuderi took a beautiful cross-ice, tape-to-tape pass from Sidney Crosby and then beat Martin Gerber. Miroslav Satan and Sidney Crosby picked up the assists. The goal was just Scuderi’s 3rd career goal and his first in nearly 100-games. The Senators pressed but were unable to get another goal, despite outshooting the Penguins 9-5 in the 3rd.
With 25-seconds left In the overtime period, Tyler Kennedy stole the puck from a surging Jason Spezza at the Penguins blue line and took off down the ice. He let a slapper go from near the boards that may have been deflected slightly on the way in, and beat Martin Gerber for the game winner.
The teams will face off again on Sunday afternoon for the rematch in Stockholm before returning back to the United States on Monday.