Division leaders in early tilt
Monday, 10.12.2009 / 7:30 PM
NHL.comPENGUINS (4-1-0) at SENATORS (3-1-0)
-- Ottawa won the head-to-head last year 3-0-1, splitting the Premiere series in Stockholm and taking the remaining two North American matchups.
-- We've barely covered five percent of the season but the Penguins and Senators have already risen to first place in their respective divisions, each holding a one-point lead.
-- The Pens responded to their one hiccup so far -- a 3-0 loss to the Coyotes last Wednesday -- with back-to-back victories, out-grinding the Flyers 5-4 and turning the Maple Leafs' physical style against them, scoring three times on the power play, two by Sidney Crosby
, in a 5-2 road win.
"Right from the start our power play was executing and set the tone for our team," coach Dan Bylsma said. "When you win the special teams (battle), that’s a good recipe (for success)."
More importantly, the Pens showed they weren't easily fazed by teams trying to outmuscle them.
"It's going to be like that against a lot of teams this year," defenseman Alex Goligoski told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They're going to want to set a tone with physical games against us.
"We've handled it pretty well so far."
-- Rust is the bane of any goaltender, and Brian Elliott certainly could have had some in his first start of the season, but he turned in a solid performance against the sharp-shooting Atlanta Thrashers, turning back 26 of 28 shots ina 4-2 win.
"The first period, I felt a little rusty right off the bat, but I made a couple of saves and felt better after that," said Elliott to the Ottawa Citizen. "The guys played great in front of me and shut down their top guys and that was overall a good game."
Mike Fisher, meanwhile, had a productive night with linemates Alex Kovalev and Daniel Alfredsson
, assisting on a Kovalev goal and knocking in one of his own on the power play. Coach Cory Clouston had switched up the top two lines in an effort to get more production out of them and not rely too much on the solid third and fourth lines.
-- Fisher also scored the overtime goal that netted the Senators a win over the Islanders. Evgeni Malkin
set up both of Crosby's power play tallies Saturday and leads the team with five assists and seven points.
-- Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba
(upper body) and centers Peter Regin
(upper body) and Ryan Shannon (concussion) remain questionable
-- The win in Toronto marked the second time in three seasons the Penguins have started 3-0 on the road. The only other time the Pens started 3-0 or better away was 1994-95, when they started 4-0-1. Fisher's power-play goal 3:44 into the second period of the Atlanta game ended an 0-for-8 drought to start the season.
-- “To get a goal when we did, I think, was very important," Clouston said about Fisher's game-winning power play goal against the Thrashers. "Sometimes it’s not how many, but when you score them.”
-- Matt Mankiewich, NHL.com