PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins felt pressure entering the fourth game of their season, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury delivered.
Fleury made 22 saves and the Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Thursday for their first victory of the season. His 39th career shutout enabled Pittsburgh (1-3-0) to avoid extending its worst start to a season since 2005-06, when the Penguins lost their first nine games (0-5-4).
"It's a good feeling," Fleury said. "Those first games, it just seemed like we were searching ourselves a little bit out there. I don't think we had a full, consistent game and tonight, I thought we did. From the start until the end, it was the way we can play and I can't say enough about the guys blocking shots in front of me."
The Senators (3-2-0) failed to score at all one night after getting seven goals in a 7-3 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh held Ottawa, which had not been shut out in 128 consecutive games, to five shots in the third period.
"They did what they had to do, because they knew we were coming off of a back-to-back on the road," Senators defenseman Marc Methot said. "I still think we didn't mange it as good as we could. I thought we were a little flat. There's only so much you can do when you don't have the legs beneath you. You have to use your head a little bit more and be a little more intelligent and maybe a little more simple."
Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins their first lead of the season when he scored 23 seconds into the second period. Patric Hornqvist dug the puck out of a scrum along the boards and chipped it to Malkin near center ice. Malkin raced in and snapped a shot that got past defenseman Erik Karlsson's outstretched stick and snuck under goalie Craig Anderson's blocker for his first goal of the season to put Pittsburgh ahead.
"We lost three games. It's not funny," Malkin said. "We understand we can't lose anymore. I think the whole team tonight was focused and we started to play better every shift. Again, we can't lose again and we play at home and the great fans support us every game and we just need to focus on every shift."
Rookie forward Daniel Sprong scored his first NHL goal at 2:25 to extend the Penguins' lead to 2-0. Matt Cullen carried the puck into the Ottawa zone and sent a pass to Sprong between the circles, where he fired a wrist shot past defenseman Marc Methot and a falling Anderson.
"I felt he deserved to bump up a little bit tonight, and he responded," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "He responded with a good working game. I don't know how many shots he had, but he had the one goal, and I like what I see out of him."
Cullen's assist on Sprong's goal was his first with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh's momentum began in the first period, when it had its best start to a game this season. The Penguins outshot the Senators 16-6, but Anderson, who started his second game in as many nights, allowed Ottawa to escape the period scoreless.
Anderson made 34 saves but took his first loss in four decisions this season.
"I think we got out of the first, we weathered the storm pretty good," Anderson said. "We came out for the second 0-0, so I thought we did a great job in the first, regardless of what the shot clock said. We just had a couple breakdowns where they had a couple 2-on-1s where they capitalized.
"They made good on their chances when they had them."
One area of concern continued for Pittsburgh. The Penguins were 0-for-3 on the power play and have yet to convert on 12 opportunities this season. Pittsburgh's best power-play chance came early in the third period when it had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:21 but was unable to capitalize.
The Senators did not take advantage of Pittsburgh's struggles on the power play or Anderson's impressive performance, which left coach Dave Cameron frustrated.
"It was one of those games where you don't have your A-game, right? Well, that happens," Cameron said. "But then you have the puck do the work for you by going north-south and by keeping it in front of you. No matter how you feel, if you feel good or not quite so good, if the puck's in front of you, you never really tire.
"For me, the disappointment is we didn't change. We didn't make the adjustment."