Endgame: Senators 6, Penguins 4
Friday, 12.16.2011 / 10:20 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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After a scoreless first period, both the Penguins and the Senators roared to life in the second at Scotiabank Place on Friday – combining for eight goals.
However, it would be Ottawa that came out ahead in that offensive outburst, taking a 5-3 lead into the final frame. That would be all they needed to earn a coveted two points in the standings, as each team added a goal in the third period to give the Senators a 6-4 victory.
“We gave them too many goals,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We had lapses in D-zone coverage. We have to be better there. We gave them too many opportunities.”
Jason Spezza scored two goals and added two assists, Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and two helpers and Jared Cowen chipped in with a goal and three assists. Alex Auld made 32 saves in his eighth appearance of the season.
If the first period was day, the second was night.
After a scoreless opening frame that had both teams struggling to find a groove, the game completely opened up in the second with both clubs going back and forth and combining for eight goals.
And needless to say, the Penguins were not pleased about surrendering five of those to their opponent.
“We don’t like it that open,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Sometimes pucks are going to bounce into your net funny, that happens. But we kind of got away from our game a little bit. We started cheating and looking for offense just a little bit, and that’s when bad things can happen.”
The period began with three goals in the first 1:39, with the Senators opening the scoring just 25 seconds into the period on a nice individual effort from Spezza. He wheeled down the side of the ice, showcasing his speed, and threaded a pass to Colin Greening – who punched it home past goalie Brent Johnson.
The Penguins would respond just 1:11 later when Arron Asham pulled out a gorgeous fake shot before threading a pass between the legs of defenseman Brian Lee and right to Steve Sullivan, who snapped a puck past Auld. But on the same shift, Spezza would regain the lead when he received a pass in the slot and beat Johnson with a quick shot.
Play calmed down for the next few minutes, until Alfredsson danced into the slot with the puck and sent it past a screened Johnson at the 6:45 mark to gain a 3-1 lead.
After the Penguins were unable to convert on a penalty to Kaspars Daugavins, they got a second chance when Chris Neil hooked Craig Adams – and this time, they converted just seven seconds into the man-advantage and climbed within one when Niskanen teed off a shot from the point.
Pittsburgh tied it up on another power-play opportunity, when Evgeni Malkin solved Auld with a scorching wrister just eight seconds into a hi-sticking call on Alfredsson.
But the Senators would get a lucky bounce to regain the lead, as Jared Cowen’s shot from the side of the ice deflected off Brooks Orpik’s skate and past Johnson.
Then with nine seconds left to play in the frame, Alexandre Picard was called for hi-sticking – and the Senators scored just three seconds into their power play (and with five seconds left in the period) off a Zenon Konopka re-direct to take a 5-3 lead into the final frame.
The Senators scored on five of their 10 shots in the period, while the Penguins converted three of their 13 shots.
Marc-Andre Fleury would take over for Johnson between the pipes for the third period.
The Penguins scored two power-play goals on four opportunities against the Senators on Friday, the first time they’ve converted at least twice on the man-advantage since a 3-1 win over Dallas on Nov. 11.
Niskanen and Malkin scored for the Penguins, with Sullivan collecting the primary assists on both tallies.
Both goals were scored off the faceoff, with Malkin taking both of the draws. On both plays, the Penguins gained possession and dished back to Sullivan, who waited for a pass option to open up before sending the puck over.
Defenseman Paul Martin, who’s been an absolute stalwart in the absences of top-four defensemen Kris Letang and has played in all 33 of the Penguins’ games, left Friday’s contest early in the third after absorbing a hit from Senators forward Chris Phillips and did not return to the game.
He did take a quick twirl on the ice during a TV timeout, but retreated back to the dressing room right after.
“It’s lower-body,” Bylsma said. “At this time, he’ll just be evaluated back in Pittsburgh when we get back there.”
The Penguins were also missing forward Jordan Staal, who sat out with a lower-body injury. Eric Tangradi took his place in the lineup, finishing with three hits through 10 minutes of ice time.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo