Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Penguins Fall 2-1 in OT to Senators

Starting on the road for the first time in these playoffs, the Senators didn't look their best but were ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard despite a parade to the penalty box.

Pittsburgh enters this series as the favorites, but Ottawa is in familiar territory as an underdog. This will be for the same reasons that they were over Columbus.

By the end they had outplayed the champs, and Ryan got to grin some more. Ottawa has some nice forwards like Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, and Derick Brassard.

I share the same views as these models. The home team won all three meetings and they were 2-1 with the under. A year ago the Senators missed the playoffs while the Penguins sprinted to the franchise's Cup. The first is pretty darn obvious. With Erik Karlsson, they can grab the advantage when it comes to the blue line.

Less than 72 hours later, with the opener at home on Saturday night, they will begin the next step in becoming the first team in almost 20 years to repeat. When he is off the ice the Senators are a pedestrian team that are extremely vulnerable. "These guys, whether they're in the lineup or they're not in the lineup, they're everybody bit as important to helping this team win".

He's exorcizing all of that in the playoffs. That number shrinks to 48.3% when he is off the ice. "He's played so well for us and he's really at the top of his game".

His even-strength points per 60 is 2.35 and that leads the team.

To be clear, the issue isn't that Karlsson hasn't been contributing. He's playing close to 30 minutes a night on a wonky foot. Fortunately, for the Penguins they won't be getting that.

That's why the action between Phaneuf, Ceci and whoever they draw as a matchup, which seems most likely to be Malkin, can make all the difference.

"We just have to be ready to refocus our energy and reinvest ourselves into this series", he said. I stress "try" because Ottawa hasn't exactly played at a slow tempo so far in the playoffs.

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"Not with our system", said the Senators winger with a laugh. "We won't get too excited", said coach Guy Boucher.

The Pittsburgh Penguins felt like they'd finally hit their stride heading into the locker room after the third period. Center Nick Bonino thinks patience is a big key to finding ways to penetrate the offensive zone.

Things aren't all roses for the Penguins. They understand they're playing with house money.

"They are a quick strike team".

As long as he remains in the Steel City, Sidney Crosby will always be the focal point of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

STANDING TALL: Ottawa had its own unique goaltending situation during the season, with Craig Anderson and Mike Condon splitting duties during a hard year that saw Anderson take time off to be with his wife, Nicholle, as she undergoes treatment for throat cancer.

Let's talk about the goaltenders. The team that led the National Hockey League in scoring during the regular season and ousted the first and fourth overall teams during the first two rounds of the playoffs despite being outshot every game looked tentative, often passing up open looks in search of better ones that never materialized. Both goalies have flashed brilliance this year. There will also be a significant amount of pressure on goaltender Craig Anderson, who needs to find his game in a hurry after an ugly second round.

"I liked a lot of things".

Finding a way to stifle Malkin will only be half the battle, however, because to focus only on No. 71 is to forget that he's had Phil Kessel skating on his wing throughout the post-season, the same Kessel who has five goals and 13 points in 12 games. That means a flimsy Fleury performance would give way to a rested, if not exactly 100 percent, Murray, who is one season removed from leading Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup. The Senators owner has a distaste for the Penguins and is famous for his CSI: Ottawa shenanigans from years past. "We're a hockey club but we're also a family". We'll have to see.

The Penguins struggled to score all night, but it wasn't for lack of opportunity.

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