The Penguins built off Sunday’s 5-1 win over Edmonton and moved closer to their goal of catching the Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference with their resounding 5-1 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place.
The Penguins got a colossal effort from everyone in the lineup, as five different players (three forwards and two defensemen) got on the board in the victory and all but two Penguins recorded a shot on goal. While the Penguins played with patience and confidence, they also weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty – scoring three of their goals as a result of crashing the net hard and not giving up on the puck in the blue paint.
Pittsburgh’s offense continued to roll and the line of Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy continued their red-hot play. They combined for seven points (2G-5A) and embodied Dan Bylsma’s preferred style of play to a ‘T.’ They got to the front of the net, controlled the puck in the offensive zone and went to the cage hard and often.
The Penguins defense was stellar once again, holding the Senators to just one goal – a power-play one at that – and nine shots through the first two periods and 22 on the night.
Brent Johnson was alert and sharp, making the key saves that kept the Penguins in the game and withstanding all 13 shots the Senators fired at him in the third period.
The Penguins are now within three points of the Flyers for the top spot in the East.
It’s too difficult to pick just one player from the line of Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, so they all get Star of the Game honors tonight.
The three players have been teamed together since Kunitz’s return to the lineup on March 8, and they have wasted no time establishing some red-hot chemistry. The trio factored into the Penguins’ first three goals on Tuesday – one in the first period and two in the second – which were crucial in swinging the momentum Pittsburgh’s way.
Kunitz began by dishing a pretty cross-ice pass to Paul Martin on the point, whose shot was tipped by Kennedy into the cage to open the scoring halfway through the first period. The three players then crashed the net hard to pounce on a rebound that Staal eventually punched over the goal line after a few tries to go up 2-0 just 1:21 into the second with assists from Kennedy and Kunitz. After Ottawa cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one, Staal then fed Ben Lovejoy a perfect pass that he shot into the net to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead they would continue to build on.
Kennedy finished with a goal, an assist and a plus-two rating; Staal notched a goal, an assist and a plus-three rating; and Kunitz tallied three helpers while earning a plus-three rating.
After Jordan Staal gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead just 1:21 into the middle frame when he pounced on a loose puck in the paint and pushed it soundly over the goal line, the Senators responded 45 seconds later with a power-play tally that cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one.
But Ben Lovejoy ensured that Ottawa wouldn’t gain any momentum when he one-timed a pass from Staal past Senators goalie Craig Anderson less than a minute later to give the Penguins a 3-1 cushion with 16:55 left in the second.
The Penguins would go on to score again later in the period and earned an eventual 5-1 victory over the Senators.
OTTAWA (AP) - Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 Tuesday night.
Chris Kunitz had three assists for the Penguins, who also got goals from Ben Lovejoy, Matt Cooke and Zbynek Michalek.
The Senators have now lost two straight after their three-game winning streak was snapped in Buffalo on Sunday.
Ryan Shannon scored for the Senators. Ottawa's Craig Anderson allowed four goals for the second straight game. He made 36 saves while Pittsburgh backup Brent Johnson turned aside 21 of 22.
- Kennedy’s first-period goal marked a new personal best for the fourth-year forward, as he now has 16 tallies on the season – topping his previous career high of 15 set in 2008-09. Kennedy is continuing to build on his personal bests across the board, as his assist on Tuesday gives him 22 assists and 37 points on the season. His previous career highs were 20 and 35 respectively (both established in 2008-09).
- Ben Lovejoy and Zbynek Michalek scored their goals in the exact same fashion. Each player received a feed from a teammate coming out from behind the net before proceeding to one-time a blast past Senators goalie Craig Anderson.
- Michalek now has three goals in his past four games after a 91-game goalless drought that traced back to Jan. 14, 2010, when the 28-year-old defenseman was still with Phoenix.
- Lovejoy and James Neal accounted for 13 of the Penguins’ 41 shots, as Neal fired a game-high seven shots while Lovejoy had six. Matt Cooke was third among all players with five shots.
- Four Penguins finished with a plus-three rating (Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz, Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin) while five others finished with a plus-two rating (Pascal Dupuis, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang and Alex Kovalev).
- Defenseman Corey Potter made his season debut in a Penguins sweater as Matt Niskanen did not travel with the team due to illness (flu) that also sidelined him for Sunday’s tilt versus Edmonton. Potter recorded two blocked shots and one shot of his own through 16:43 of ice time.
- Defenseman Steve Wagner, who was also called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, did not dress for the game.
- Tonight marked Alex Kovalev’s first game against the Senators since Pittsburgh re-acquired him from Ottawa on Feb. 24. Kovalev spent one-plus seasons with the Senators, notching 32 goals and 76 points in 131 games.
- Dustin Jeffrey and Paul Martin each got two assists.
#1. Tyler Kennedy
Right Wing - 48
#2. Chris Kunitz
Left Wing - 14
#3. Jordan Staal
Center - 11
Author: Michelle Crechiolo