Senators 5, Penguins 4
-- For one night, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup Playoff experience meant very little.
Peter Regin and Erik Karlsson had goals in the NHL playoff debuts, and goalie Brian Elliott -- another playoff newcomer -- made 17 saves to backstop the Ottawa Senators to a 5-4 victory in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series Wednesday at Mellon Arena.
Game 2 will be Friday at 7 p.m. here in Pittsburgh.
Ottawa's veteran players chipped in, too, as Chris Neil and Chris Kelly each had a goal and an assist, and Jarkko Ruutu had a goal for the Senators, who lead a playoff series for the first time since the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
had a pair of power-play goals, and Craig Adams
and Alex Goligoski
also scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury
allowed five goals on 26 shots and gave up a few big rebounds that led to Ottawa goals.
"It's frustrating," Fleury said. "I hate giving up so many goals. It's tough. I can't do any more about it and I have to just be ready for the next one."
"There are a couple of shots that he's going to be thinking about tonight, that he wants back," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
While Pens captain Sidney Crosby
had three assists -- including one on Goligoski's goal with 2:24 remaining that cut the deficit to one goal -- Ottawa's top defense pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips held him to just two shots, both of which came in the final 6:17.
"I thought they did a good job," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "He's very dangerous, even if he has only one shot. He made a great play at the end (setting up Goligoski's goal) . We're not going to say it's one or two guys -- we're going to do it my committee. We're trying to do it as a team. We're trying to get into shooting lanes, trying to block shots, trying to make sure we have numbers at the blue line.
"I thought that there were a couple of breakdowns, but overall we did a pretty good job."
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead just 3:03 into the game. On the game's first power play, Crosby beat Kelly on faceoff, and the puck eventually landed on Malkin's stick. Malkin sent the puck up top to Sergei Gonchar, who faked a shot and passed back to Malkin. He wound up from the right circle and fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle that went through a Crosby screen and past Elliott.
Regin's first Stanley Cup Playoff goal tied the game. Fleury made a left-pad save on Jason Spezza's shot off the rush from the right circle, but left a juicy rebound that Regin converted as he drove through the crease at 8:25.
Neil put the Senators ahead when he scored after Fleury left another big rebound when he stopped Volchenkov's point shot. Kelly beat Tyler Kennedy
on a faceoff in the Pittsburgh end and Volchenkov ended up with the puck. Fleury stopped his shot with his shoulder, but the rebound popped out to Neil, who gloved the puck, dropped it on his stick and beat Fleury past his glove at 14:08.
The first period ended with the Senators ahead 2-1 after allowing just four shots.
"They were kind of packing it in and forcing us to the outside," Goligoski said of the Senators' defensive scheme. "We have to find a way to get inside and get more shots."
Kelly made it 3-1 just 1:20 into the second period on a fortuitous bounce during a power play. Chris Campoli shot the puck into the Pittsburgh end, and as Fleury moved out to play it, the puck took a weird bounce off the boards and came into the slot. Kelly ripped a shot into the empty net before Fleury could dive back into the crease.
Malkin's second power-play goal of the game pulled the Penguins within one goal at 10:22 of the second. With Regin off for holding -- he was also in the box on Malkin's first goal -- Malkin's low shot went through traffic and between Elliott's skates.
But Karlsson restored the Senators' two-goal lead at 13:14. With Ottawa on a power play after Chris Kunitz
took a needless charging penalty, Matt Cullen's shot from center point hit off Fleury, but he couldn't find the rebound. It landed on the rookie defenseman's stick in the lower right circle, and Karlsson calmly switched the puck from his backhand to forehand and scored his first NHL playoff goal with a shot under the crossbar to make it 4-2.
Adams, who didn't score during the regular season, made it a one-goal game when he sent a backhand shot over Elliott's glove from the left circle at 5:16 of the third. Pascal Dupuis
chipped the puck along the wall to Adams, who hasn't scored in 111 regular-season games, but now has 4 goals in his last 13 playoff games.
Ruutu, the former Penguin, again put Ottawa up two goals when he scored off a nice cross-ice feed from Neil at 9:40. That turned out to be the winner when Crosby's blind backhand pass from behind the net found Goligoski in the left circle, and the defenseman rifled a shot high to the short side, under the crossbar with 2:24 left.
All in all, it was a frustrating night for a team and a city that wants to book another Stanley Cup parade in June.
"We expected certain things out of the Senators, and they were very good in those areas," Bylsma said. "Through the neutral zone, they were very good. Their forwards were coming back very hard, and they did a very good job -- taking away our time and space and creating turnovers.
"They did a very good job, and you have to give them a lot of credit. We have to do a better job of executing."
Crosby said the difference for his team could be capitalizing on its opportunities. The Penguins had just 21 shots on goal, but missed the net on another 14 tries.
"We had a few chances around the net," Crosby said. "Staalsy (Jordan Staal
) had a great chance early on and we had a few chances around the net that just didn't go in. That's going to be the difference. You can always say 'What if,' but at the end of the day, you have to find ways to win and we weren't able to tonight."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org
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