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Ruutu's shootout winner lifts Penguins

by Adam Schwartz
Pittsburgh's Dany Sabourin was able to hold off the Senators while the Penguins rallied  from two seperate two-goal deficits
Dany Sabourin came off the bench and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a chance to win. Jarkko Ruutu sealed the deal.

Sabourin came off the bench in the first period with the Penguins down 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators and got Pittsburgh to a shootout. After Jason Spezza scored on the first shot, Eric Christensen matched it for Pittsburgh. Sabourin then stopped the next four shooters before Ruutu, the Penguins’ fifth shooter, scored to give Pittsburgh a 6-5 victory.

Ruutu deked to his backhand, Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber went for the move, and the Finish forward slid the puck between Gerber’s legs for the game-winner.

“I just tried to make a move and put it in,” Ruutu said.

Ryan Malone and Sergei Gonchar scored in the third period as the Penguins overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third period. After Gonchar’s goal at 7:07, the teams spent the rest of the third period and the five-minute overtime racing up and down the ice, testing both goaltenders.

''Every time we play these guys it's pretty exciting,'' Malone said. ''With the offense they have, their team is pretty much the best in the league right now. It was a great character win for us.''

Sabourin finished with 29 saves, plus the four shootout stops.

''He won a shootout for us earlier this year, and even in the third period when Ottawa really started to pour it on a little bit, we got sloppy and he made some big saves for us,'' said Malone, who scored twice.

In a game in which Pittsburgh scored five goals, the Senators were able to hold Penguins’ star forward Sidney Crosby to only one assist. Crosby has scored just one goal in seven career games against Ottawa, and the Penguins usually struggle to score on nights when Crosby doesn’t generate a lot of offense.

But not this time.

“We wanted to take the load off the top two lines,” Ruutu said.

Ottawa didn’t take long to KO Marc-Andre Fleury. Jason Spezza slid home a rebound at 4:54 and Chris Phillips blasted a power-play slap shot past Fleury at 10:55, giving the Senators two goals on four shots. That prompted coach Michel Therrien to change goalies.

The change sparked the Pens. Evgeni Malkin stole the puck and scored on a breakaway at 18:07, and Crosby fed Malone for a slap shot that beat Gerber low to the stick side 18 seconds later.

Pittsburgh went ahead 3-2 when Jordan Staal stripped Ottawa defenseman Joe Corvo and fed Tyler Kennedy, who beat Gerber with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at 7:00.

But after the Pens failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage for 42 seconds, Spezza tied it at 14:20 with a power-play goal. Dany Heatley put Ottawa back in front 1:55 later with another power-play goal, one-timing a pass from Daniel Alfredsson past Sabourin from the slot.

Ottawa got its two-goal lead back 64 seconds into the third period when defenseman Andrej Meszaros took a shot from the right point that was tipped in by Christoph Schubert for his second goal of the season.

But Malone converted Gonchar’s rebound and Gonchar beat Gerber with a one-timer from the right hash mark to tie the game.

''We're resilient,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ''I don't think we played our best third period – we gave up some scoring chances that we don't usually give up – but we found a way to come back in the game. Our power play gave us a goal, finally, in the third and gave us a chance to come back. It's nice to get a win.''

The comeback should give the Pens a boost, according to defenseman Ryan Whitney.

“We battled back from two two-goal deficits,” he said. “We should feel great about that.”

Spezza hit a post later in the period and was stopped by Sabourin on a 2-on-1 in overtime.

''This one stings because we probably should have won,'' Spezza said. ''I think we outplayed them, but we didn't, so you've got to learn from it.''

The win gives the Penguins a 9-11-2 record and 20 points, tied for fourth in the Atlantic Division with New Jersey, and forward Armstrong thinks Pittsburgh is finding its game. “We’ve been finding ways to lose games,” he said. “We found a way to stay with this one and it was a big win for us.”

The Senators, who haven't lost consecutive regular-season games in regulation since Dec. 19-21, are 3-0-3-1 after an NHL-record 13-1-0 start.

  Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used it this report.

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