Pens spoil Gonchar's return to Pittsburgh
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:09 AM
The Pittsburgh Penguins
made sure Sergei Gonchar
's return to the Steel City was a miserable one.
and Mark Letestu
scored power-play goals in the first period and the Pens won their third in a row with a 5-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators
at the Consol Energy Center on Monday night.
also scored as Pittsburgh won its fourth in five games after dropping three of its first four. All three of those losses were in the team's new facility, where the Penguins have since won their past two.
Gonchar, the power-play anchor of the Penguins' Stanley Cup finalist teams in 2008 and 2009, didn't have a memorable return in his first game back in a visiting uniform. He was on the ice for every goal in the first two periods as Pittsburgh raced out to a 5-1 lead, prompting Sens coach Cory Clouston to bench goalie Brian Elliott for Robin Lehner
. Elliott was pulled after stopping 17 of 22 shots.
"I don't think anybody is happy," Gonchar said. "We're all frustrated. But it's one of those things that you have to battle through. You have to stay positive."
Ottawa, a first-round playoff loser to Pittsburgh last season, is 1-4-1 and has converted only twice on the power play in its first 24 opportunities. Alfredsson scored the team's second power-play goal at 5:40 of the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But Pascal Dupuis
-- moved back to Crosby's line -- and Kris Letang
responded with goals 25 seconds apart midway through the second to end Elliott's night.
"If we're playing how we can, I really like this team," Alfredsson said. "Right now, we're just not getting the most out of everybody. ... We're one step behind at times."
Penguins goalie Brent Johnson
, making his third consecutive start, turned aside 32 shots while improving to 4-0 this season. Marc-Andre Fleury
, who last started in Pittsburgh's 4-3 loss at home to Toronto on Wednesday and the first player selected at the 2003 Entry Draft, is 0-3.
is our franchise goalie and he's our No. 1 guy," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's a guy we count on to be a great goaltender for us and make big saves, just like he has in the past. He'll get to do that again. His teammates are confident what he's going to bring to our team."
Johnson's best stop came when he poked the puck off Mike Fisher's stick as he neared the net on a breakaway with the Penguins up 5-2 midway through the third period.
"It's Flower's (Fleury's) team, everyone knows that," Johnson said. "It's important right now that if I am looked upon to get in there, I try to get the job done."
Letestu, who has four goals in seven games, took advantage of a too many men on the ice penalty and unleashed a knuckleball-like shot under the crossbar at 8:39 of the first. He had just one goal in 10 games last season.
"I think secondary scoring is something Dan was expecting from me when he made me a part of this team," Letestu said. "He is expecting me to be a guy who can support Geno and Sid. Did he expect me to be a point-per-game guy? Probably not."
Three minutes later, Gonchar received a standing ovation from the standing-room crowd of 18,101 during a scoreboard tribute.
Gonchar also was on the ice for Crosby's third goal in two games. Alex Goligoski's shot went wide and deflected to the side of the net, where Crosby shoved it inside the near post with Malkin by his side at 13:53.
Malkin scored himself slightly more than three minutes later, when Letestu won a faceoff in the Ottawa zone and the puck banked off Mike Comrie to the front of the net to make it 3-0.
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.