Energy lacking for Senators in OT loss to Penguins

It may be getting late in the season to take pride in single points.

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins has the puck knocked away by Cody Ceci #5 of the Ottawa Senators during the second period on February 3, 2014 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – It may be getting late in the season to take pride in single points.

But the Senators did gain one by extending the first-place Penguins to overtime before losing 2-1 on a goal by James Neal at 1:55 of overtime.

The Senators have not won in Pittsburgh since Jan. 10, 2012, a 5-1 win.

“This rink hasn’t been to kind to us the last couple of years,” said Senators captain Jason Spezza. “We’re aware of all that.”

Because they lost in Phoenix on Saturday, it was worth mentioning that the Penguins have not lost back to back games since Nov. 9 and 13 when they lost to the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers at the height of Pittsburgh’s injury issues.

On the morning of the Ottawa game, the Penguins were talking about the “pride” they take in not losing consecutively, particularly on home ice, where they have an overall record of 22-4-0.

At times, the Penguins were poised to take over this game.

Only the play of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson kept it from being a blowout in the second period, as the Penguins more or less set up shop in the Ottawa zone, firing pucks at will. Through 40 minutes, Anderson had stopped 28 of 29 shots, including several close-in saves off Brandon Sutter, Jussi Jokinen and Chris Kunitz.

A sleepy first period was just what the Senators had hoped for, facing a Penguins team that was coming off two western time zone games.

The home team didn’t have a lot of early jump and centre Stephane Da Costa seemed to catch the Penguins defence off guard, slipping in from the corner to beat Marc Andre Fleury with a forehand to the short side.

Da Costa was one of Ottawa’s best forwards all night, providing energy when it was in short supply.

His goal sent a groan rippling through the Consol Engergy Centre at 14:05 of the first period, and the Senators might have carried the lead into the intermission if they hadn’t given the Penguins a power-play opportunity less than a minute later.

With the seconds ticking down on Zack Smith’s minor for boarding Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins tied the game on a point shot by Olli Maatta, an ominous sign considering the Penguins are 13-1 at home when scoring a power play (and 22-4-0 at home overall). Centre Brian Gibbons tipped the Maatta shot to redirect it past Anderson at 16:23, Gibbons’ third goal of the season.

wscanlan@ottawacitizen.com

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