Head coach Mike Johnston gives his three impressions from the bench of the Pens’ 4-3 overtime loss against the Ottawa Senators.
1. I really liked our start tonight and halfway through the game they get the shorthanded goal. It goes off Pouliot’s skate, a break for them. I thought it gave them some momentum.
2. I thought in the third that we were back on our heels, playing tentative. We went to five defense with Pouliot out at the end of the second. That was a factor for some of our defense that were fatigued back there on that third period.
3. We did a lot of good things through three-quarters of the game. They scored on a pulled goaltender situation at the end of the game. We’re still in the playoff hunt and control our destiny. We have to take care of our own business. We were that close to doing it tonight, 1:30 away from it. We didn’t close it out. We have to do that.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
1. Effort Start
One major reason the Sens have surged over the last few weeks and climbed back into the playoff chase is their work ethic - no other team works harder. However, it was the Pens who out-worked, out-battled, and out-hustled Ottawa in the opening period. The Pens won crucial puck battles, worked tirelessly on their stick work, backchecked hard, and were a force on the forecheck. It all starts with the Pens moving their feet and outskating the Sens. The result was a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
2. Stepping Up
In the biggest regular-season game for the Pens in the last 15 years, they desperately needed big games from their big stars. Sidney Crosby took it from there. He gave the Pens a 1-0 lead just 10 seconds into the game. He helped set up Patric Hornqvist later in the first period for a goal that gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead. Crosby’s relentless work ethic set the tone for the Pens and the rest of the team fed off of his emotion. It resulted in a magnificent start for Pittsburgh. However…
Despite their best efforts through the opening two periods, the Pens could not hold on for the win. The Pens played very passively in the third period, trying to survive the Sens’ attack instead of hitting back. Pittsburgh made smart, simple plays. That worked for the majority of the third period, but it wasn’t enough. Marc-Andre Fleury did all he could to stave off the Sens. He was brilliant and deserved a better outcome. The dam broke with Matt Hoffman’s rocket shot that tied the game in the final minutes of the third. After that, it felt inevitable that Ottawa would pull off the victory.
Note: The Pens' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now down to three, which is a combination of points they get and points the Sens lose in each of their final two games.