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Neal scores in OT to lift Penguins past Senators

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury came out on top against Craig Anderson in a battle of two goalies attempting to respond from lackluster games.

Fleury made 24 saves to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 overtime win against Anderson and the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

James Neal scored the game-winning goal 1:55 into overtime. Neal collected a rebound off of a shot by Robert Bortuzzo and snapped the puck past Anderson to end his eight-game goalless drought.

"I was just trying to get the puck on the net and hit the net more," Neal said. "When you don't score you sometimes try to pick corners and be a little too cute with it. It's something maybe I've done in the past few games, but I was able to find one tonight. It was a good feeling.

"I felt like we were playing a game we wanted to play all night."

After allowing three goals in a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday, Fleury made one of the best saves of the season to keep the game tied 1-1 midway through the third period. Ottawa forward Jason Spezza sent a pass to Erik Karlsson to the right of Pittsburgh's crease, and the defenseman shot at a wide-open upper-right corner of the net. Fleury sprawled and whipped his glove at the puck to make the save with 10:33 left in the game.

"That's something that I did not count on," Karlsson said. "It's a great save, and I really can't do anything else but tip my hat and say good job and I thought it was a clear shot at an open net, but he clearly denied me. Pretty hard too.

"He knows he did a good save, and unfortunately, I'm going to be on the highlights for quite some time with that one."

Fleury said his save at the end of Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final was the best he has ever made. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma disagreed, calling Fleury's save on Karlsson "flat out" the best save he's ever seen his goalie make.

"It was going high to the right corner, and he had to get up there to get it," Bylsma said. "It was an open cage, he pushes over, gets the glove up there to make the save. I hope we see this one over and over again as one of the great saves.

"I'm not sure I've seen another save that's any better than that one."

Fleury earned his NHL-leading 30th win of the season.

Despite each team playing with an up-tempo pace during the second period, neither scored and the game remained tied 1-1 entering the second intermission.

Pittsburgh controlled the play through much of the period and held a 15-4 advantage in second-period shots through the first 14:37 of the period, but couldn't capitalize on several opportunities. Neal and Matt Niskanen each missed on open-net shots during the Penguins' second power play of the game.

The Penguins missed the net on six second-period shot attempts, and when they did hit the net, Anderson was there to stop each of their 16 shots.

After allowing five goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Anderson responded by making 46 saves against the Eastern Conference's top-ranked offense (3.11 goals per game). One of his better saves came 5:57 into the game when he made a glove stop on Brandon Sutter, who sped through the Ottawa zone and had a clear shot at the left of the net.

"We knew we had to come out hard after the second half of our game in Toronto, which was not up to our liking," Anderson said. "We needed to come back and have a good game, and we knew they would want to come back hard at us too after we beat them in our building."

Not to be outdone, Fleury made an equally impressive stop 1:36 later on Mika Zibanejad. Spezza sent a pass from the boards to Zibanejad, who tipped it on goal from in front of Pittsburgh's crease. Fleury blockered away the shot to keep the game scoreless.

Senators forward Stephane Da Costa and Penguins forward Brian Gibbons each scored his third goal of the season to send the game to the first intermission at 1-1.

Da Costa drove down the left boards in Pittsburgh's zone and past defenseman Olli Maatta toward the left post behind Fleury. He roofed a wrist shot over Fleury's right shoulder and into the upper-left corner of the net to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead with 5:55 remaining in the first.

Gibbons answered 2:18 later on a Pittsburgh power play. He reached with his stick to deflect Maatta's slap shot from the point past Anderson. The Penguins' top-ranked power play finished the game 1-for-3.

"I think we had a good entry there," Gibbons said. "[Jussi Jokinen] made a good play bumping it back to Olli, and he waited for me to get in front and the shot went off my stick. It worked out."

Penguins forward Taylor Pyatt left the game 22 seconds into his first shift with a lower-body injury after missing on a check and falling into the boards.

Pittsburgh was without defenseman Kris Letang, who missed a third consecutive game with an undisclosed illness, but limited Ottawa's shots by pressuring the puck and getting in shooting lanes. The Penguins also played without Letang in the teams' first game of the season -- a 5-0 Senators win Dec. 23.

Senators coach Paul MacLean thought his team responded well to the 6-3 loss to Toronto.

"We had a lot of guys that played real well," MacLean said. "I thought our competition level was good, and when you get to overtime against this team, things can go wrong in a hurry and they did."

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