WHY THE SENATORS LOST
They took a bunch of dumb penalties early against one of the most dangerous offences in the league and paid dearly for it. The Senators left the first period down 3-0, a death sentence for a team 0-4-1 when the opposition scores first. The carnage tapered off when Robin Lehner replaced Brian Elliott in goal midway through the second period, but the game was over by then anyways. The Senators look like a team playing for a lottery pick right now, not a playoff position. An apoplectic fans base is ready to pounce in Ottawa.
Mark Letestu, Penguins
Where did this kid come from? That was a rhetorical question. The Elk Point, A.B., native spent parts of four seasons in the AHL before finally cracking the lineup this season. With his goal and assist, he now has seven points in as many games. Not bad for a guy who’s making $500,000 this season on a two-way contract.
The Ottawa Senators
How can you pick just one? As it stands, this team is a complete disaster. Their defensive zone is a shooting gallery for opposition skaters, the neutral zone is a turnover-fest and, on offence, Ottawa is averaging just two goals per game. Two questions many will be pondering today: Is the team general manager Bryan Murray built this bad, or has Cory Clouston just failed to prepare it for the season?
What else? Another bench minor for too many men on the ice, the second this season for the Senators and 15th in the last 88 contests. With Chris Neil off serving the momentum-killer just seven minutes into the game, Letestu clanged a nice shot off the crossbar behind Elliott’s glove and into the net. It was all downhill from there.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
This interesting statistic: Not only have the Penguins put up 10 goals in their last two games, they also lead the National Hockey League in team hits. They entered the contest against the Senators with 167 checks, 39 ahead of the second-place Chicago Blackhawks. They’re flush with offensive capability, they have the hottest goalie in the league in Brent Johnson and they apparently have a ton of grit. Can you say Stanley Cup favourite?
- 25: Seconds between goals four and five for the Pens, killing any chance of an Ottawa comeback.
- 30:32: Ice time for Brian Elliott.
- 4: Number of Penguins with multi-point games.
- 30: Ottawa’s position in the NHL standings.
NO GONCHAR, NO PROBLEM
Pittsburgh fans gave former Penguin Sergei Gonchar a nice ovation in his return, maybe because they have no reason to resent his departure. The rest of the defence has stepped in to ensure no drop-off in production from the back end, led by new acquisition Paul Martin and talented youngster Alex Goligoski (seven points each). In all, Pens defenders have 23 points overall. Gonchar, who finished a minus-three against his former teammates, has two of only six points for Ottawa’s blueliners.