Penguins take flight in Game 1

Let’s rewind the tape to what the Ottawa Senators said repeatedly after they learned they would be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.

Penguins take flight in Game 1
Chris Kunitz #14 celebrates with Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins after scoring in the second period against Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 14, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Let’s rewind the tape to what the Ottawa Senators said repeatedly after they learned they would be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.
You know, all that stuff about not giving that potent Penguins power play free opportunities the opportunity to showcase the team’s skill?
As it turned out, the man advantage game made all the difference as the Penguins defeated the Senators 4-1 Tuesday at the Consol Energy Centre to open the best-of-seven series.
Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin scored on the power play, with Kunitz’s goal with 1:27 left in the second period and Cory Conacher in the penalty box giving the Penguins a commanding 3-1 lead.
Meanwhile, the stone cold Senators power play was shut out in five chances, failing to get the puck past a very vulnerable-looking Tomas Vokoun in the Penguins net.
Down 2-1 to start the middle period, the Senators carried the play for extended periods against a Penguins team which was defensively AWOL. While Vokoun kept the puck out — the Senators held a 26-24 shot edge after two periods — almost every shot was an adventure in goaltending, with bobbled pucks and loose rebounds readily available.
That part of the Senators game plan, the emphasis on trying to keep the puck inside the Penguin blue line as much as possible, was working.
Then came the Conacher holding penalty, which opened the door for the Penguins stars to once again make the difference.
During a scramble in front of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, Kunitz beat defencemen Chris Phillips and Marc Methot to a loose puck and banged it into the net.
That resulted in a run-and-gun third period as the Senators were forced to play catch up.
It made for entertaining, wide open hockey, but it also played to the Penguins’ strengths.
Dupuis put the series opener out of reach with 11:24 left, beating Anderson high to the stick side on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break – adding more of an insult to the Senators’ weak special teams effort.
Adding to the defeat was the loss of defenceman Mark Gryba to an upper body injury late in the second period. Gryba headed for the dressing room on wobbly feet after running smack into defenceman Brooks Orpik at the Penguins blueline.
Orpik, who scored the game-winning overtime goal in the Penguins’ series clinching first round win over the New York Islanders on Saturday, was a rock defensively. He did his part in keeping the Senators from getting to the loose pucks that Vokoun made available.
Defenceman Jared Cowen, meanwhile, had a rough first period to start the series. It was a major factor in Penguins goals by Evgeni Malkin and Martin as Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Martin cashed in with the man advantage when his shot deflected off Cowen and off the post past Anderson only 2:41 into the game. It was all Penguins in the opening minutes – the shot count was 6-1 barely three minutes in – and Anderson was sharp to limit the early damage to one goal.
If that first Penguins goal came off an unlucky bounce, the Senators got one of their own when Vokoun misplayed an Erik Condra shot from the corner and turned it into a Colin Greening goal at the 4:51 mark, tying the game. Condra’s shot from an impossible angle somehow slipped behind Vokoun and lay on the goal line before Greening whacked at the loose puck.
Malkin, who has at least one point in all seven Penguins playoff games, restored the Penguins’ first period lead. After Cowen lost control of the puck behind the net, James Neal passed to Chris Kunitz at the side of the net. Kunitz caught Eric Gryba turning the wrong way and fed a perfect pass to Malkin, who shook Cowen’s check before tapping the puck into an empty net.
MacLean broke up the Cowen-Gryba defence combination in the second period, putting Cowen with Sergei Gonchar and Gryba with Chris Phillips. Once Gryba left, the Senators finished with only five defenceman for the third time in six games during the post-season.

GAME FILE

CHEERS

The Pittsburgh power play

Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. There’s vision, puck movement and the finishing touch to make it all click. A two-for-four night with the man advantage made up for a game where the Penguins disappeared for long stretches.

JEERS

Special teams, Senators

An early first period power play goal from Paul Martin and a late second period power play goal from Chris Kunitz made all the difference. Meanwhile, the Senators went 0-for-5 on their own power play, also allowing Pascal Dupuis’ shorthanded goal.

WHY THEY LOST

The Penguins jumped on the Senators at the outset, played rope-and-dope to nurse a narrow lead in the second period and waited for their special teams to win the game.

MALKIN MAKING NOISE

Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, giving him three goals and 10 assists in the playoffs. Malkin has registered at least one point in all seven Penguins playoff games, holding the NHL playoff scoring lead.

MORE FROM SENATORSEXTRA.COM

Tags: , ,

What do you think? Leave a comment