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Ehrhoff helps Penguins rally past Senators

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH – Christian Ehrhoff’s late goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

Sidney Crosby controlled the puck behind the net before spinning out of traffic and skating down the left boards. Crosby backhanded a pass to Ehrhoff alone in the right faceoff circle.

Ehrhoff froze before taking a slap shot that hit the back of the Ottawa net behind Craig Anderson with 1:50 remaining.

“It was definitely a surprise [to have that much space],” Ehrhoff said. “Usually when you have that much time, you think too much. But I just knew where I wanted to put it and this time, it went right where I wanted it.”

Pittsburgh finished 2-1-0 on its three-game homestand. The loss extended Ottawa’s losing streak to five games. The Senators have lost four of the five games by one goal.

Despite recent struggles, Senators coach Paul MacLean said he has been impressed by Ottawa’s competiveness.

“I thought we were competitive,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said. “Our play without the puck is again continuing to improve and improve, and that’s creating offensive chances for us. We just have to keep working at it.”

Ottawa scored two unanswered goals while controlling most of the second period to gain a 2-1 lead after trailing following the first period.

“I think our sense of urgency, I think we talked about that the other day, it’s been there,” Anderson said. “We’re giving ourselves an opportunity to be in the game at the end of the night and we’re so close and the guys are battling. We had a great second period today, we were able to win that period and gave ourselves and opportunity at the end of the game.

“It’s one of those things where if we keep working on the process and keep doing this the way we want to keep doing, the results will turn around for us.”

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in unusual fashion.

Evgeni Malkin, who had been called for roughing Chris Neil, exited the penalty box and collected the puck before skating past Karlsson into the Senators zone. Malkin brought the puck to his backhand before bringing it back to the left and taking a wrist shot while colliding with Anderson.

The shot got through on a 4-on-4 for Malkin’s 13th goal at 4:17 of the first. Anderson remained huddled on the ice behind the crease for a few minutes while being attended to, but remained in the game.

“I took a bad penalty. It was a very bad penalty,” Malkin said. “It was a great time by the team. They played good and tough, and after, I just stepped on the ice and I see [Bobby] Ryan missed the net and I know it’s a breakaway and I tried to stop when I went backhand to forehand. I tried to stop, but there was too much speed.”

Senators forward David Legwand deflected a snap shot from Erik Karlsson past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game 1-1 at 1:13 of the second period with Ehrhoff in the penalty box for tripping. Mika Zibanejad scored a second goal to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.

Bobby Ryan gathered the puck at the Ottawa blue line and charged into the Pittsburgh zone before passing to Zibanejad skating through the middle of the ice. Zibanejad fought off Penguins forward Andrew Ebbett before placing a snap shot through Fleury’s five-hole with 8:44 remaining in the period.

“I think we’re battling hard and we just have to keep working on it,” Zibanejad said. “I think we’re moving forward. We just have to get that one win and hopefully get going … Just keep playing. Obviously, we can do stuff different and the defense differently. But overall, that’s something we can’t complain about.”

Fleury made 12 saves in the second period, many coming on shots from directly in front of the net with bodies in the crease, to keep Pittsburgh’s deficit at one goal.

The Penguins took advantage of Fleury’s effort by tying the game on their fourth power play of the game. Defenseman Olli Maatta took a wrist shot that was tipped by Brandon Sutter then Malkin in front of the net and behind Anderson with 2:13 left in the second. It was Malkin's second goal of the game, his team-leading 14th of the season.

Forward Rob Klinkhammer, who the Penguins acquired from the Arizona Coyotes along with a conditional pick at the 2016 NHL Draft for defenseman Philip Samuelsson on Friday, drew a hooking call on Erik Condra that led to Sutter’s goal. Klinkhammer drew two penalties in the second period.

Pittsburgh’s power play finished 1-for-4 without three of its regular top-unit players. Forward Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed), forward Chris Kunitz (fractured foot) and defenseman Kris Letang (lower body) did not play Saturday.

The Penguins rebounded from a 3-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Penguins coach Mike Johnston said the players were eager to put that performance behind them.

“It’s always important to have a rebound game,” Johnston said. “We talked about that as a group. We talked about it with the media the other day. Following that game, I think everybody was anxious to. Let’s just get back at it, let’s play another one. And we didn’t feel that the Vancouver game was a good game for us as a team.

“I thought tonight was better. Certainly Ottawa, they have some depth in their lineup. They have a good quality team … It was going to be one of those games. It was going to be a one-goal game.”

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