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First Period Frenzy

Friday, 11.25.2011 / 11:19 PM / Features
By Kaitlin Zurawsky
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First Period Frenzy
Talk about a quick – and emphatic – response.

After Ottawa’s Kaspars Daugavins scored just 1:41 into the first period, the Penguins countered just 27 seconds later – one of four unanswered goals on just eight shots that they would tally in the next 7:25 minutes.

“There was a talk on our bench right away about a response and before you could hear the echo, we had responded,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It continued from there.”

The Penguins chased starter Craig Anderson from the cage in favor of backup Alex Auld as they completely dominated the opening frame, going on to top the Senators by a final score of 6-3 at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday.

“They scored pretty early but we knew we had a lot of time left and could still get back in the game,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “Everyone responded well and that carried over for the next two periods.”

Crosby earned the primary assist on the Penguins’ first goal on a play that began when he received a heads-up breakout pass from defenseman Deryk Engelland

Crosby then made a beautiful cross-ice shot-pass to linemate Chris Kunitz, who was driving to the cage hard. Kunitz flipped the puck into the net over Anderson to tie the game 1-1.

“I think we wanted to start better than we did last game,” Crosby said. “It was just a matter of doing that.”

During a four-on-four opportunity, Tyler Kennedy gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with 16:35 minutes remaining in the period.

Kennedy began the play when he carried the puck down the near side of the ice and whipped it at Anderson. The Senators goalie made the initial save, but Kennedy collected his own rebound in the corner and took another shot from behind the goal line. The puck banked off the inside pad of Anderson and deflected into the goal.

Kennedy, who finished the night with a tally and two assists, now has nine goals in 14 career games against Ottawa – his most against any opponent.

Shortly after, the Senators took a too many men penalty and the Penguins went to their first power play of the night. The Penguins had many good chances, but it wasn’t until the Senators’ Zack Smith took a tripping penalty on James Neal, allowing the Penguins to have a 30-second two-man advantage, that the Penguins were able to strike.

Bylsma elected to use to five forwards – Evgeni Malkin, Crosby, Neal, Kunitz and Steve Sullivan – on the 5-on-3. After a series of passes, Sullivan’s attempted feed to Neal from the far circle hit the stick of Chris Phillips and found its way into the net. This was Sullivan’s fourth well-deserved goal of the season.

“I think (Sullivan) becomes even more of a scoring threat on the power play with (Malkin) and (Crosby) healthy and out there,” Bylsma said. “Just in practice he’s scored a lot of goals on the power play as a result of (Crosby) being out there. “

The Senators were able to kill off the rest of the penalty, but that did not stop Malkin. With 10:49 left to play in the first, he kept the puck in the offensive zone, skated through two defenders and found open space in the slot.

Malkin took aim and shot to the far side of the net past Anderson for his seventh goal of the season.

He said the way the Penguins played that first 20 minutes set the tone for the rest of the game.

“Before we’ve had bad starts, and today coach said we needed to play better the first 20 minutes,” Malkin said. “We did a great job, scoring four goals and controlled the whole game.”
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