The last time the Penguins played at Scotiabank Place prior to Sunday’s game, they knocked the Senators out of last season’s playoffs with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Penguins’ return to the nation’s capital was less than triumphant, as they fell 3-1 to a desperate Senators squad led by the Herculean effort of goalie Brian Elliott, who made 44 saves in the win.
The first period was a total team effort from the Senators, who outshot the Penguins 12-6 after the first 20 minutes. They came out flying, getting three quality scoring chances within the first six minutes (with one of them hitting the post, the other dinging off the crossbar) before netting their first goal halfway through the period when Mike Fisher re-directed a shot from the stick of Erik Karlsson. Karlsson got one of his own just 4:28 later off a blast from the point.
After the first period, however, the Penguins regrouped and came out hard in the final 40 minutes. They just couldn’t solve Elliott, who carried his team through the middle frame as Pittsburgh outshot Ottawa 21-6 in the second and had quality scoring chances from Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz and Craig Adams. Elliott then performed solidly in the third, helping his team withstand a late flurry from the Penguins when Sidney Crosby scored with just 3:22 remaining in the game to cut the Senators’ lead to two.
Sidney Crosby showed why he wears the ‘C’ for the Penguins with his battle level and determination in Sunday’s game. He extended his career-high point streak to 24 games, the NHL’s longest stretch since 1992-93, when he tallied with just 3:22 remaining in the third period. His goal gave the Penguins new life and allowed them to mount a furious surge in the game’s final minutes.
Crosby barrelled into the Senators' defensive zone off the bench and backhanded a pass at Brian Elliott that trickled just over the goal line.
This came minutes after Crosby’s near miss, when he sped down the left side ice and uncorked a blast at Elliott from the circle that clanged off the far crossbar and out of danger.
Crosby led the entire team with 24:46 of ice time and finished the night with a 55-percent success rate in the faceoff dot, winning 16-of-29 draws. He also had four shots and two hits in the game.
While the Penguins had dug themselves into a 2-0 hole after the first period off goals from Mike Fisher and Erik Karlsson, they still had a full 40 minutes to turn the game around. After all, two-goal leads in a fast-moving game like hockey are the most slippery of advantages.
But the Senators were able to start the middle frame with the man-advantage after Chris Kunitz was whistled for charging at the end of the first. That’s when Karlsson struck again just 20 seconds into the period. The 20-year-old defenseman unleashed a blast from the point that whistled past Fleury and gave the Senators a hefty three-goal cushion that the Penguins couldn’t erase.
OTTAWA (AP) - Penguins star Sidney Crosby scored with 3:22 remaining to extend his points streak to 24 games, but Erik Karlsson had two goals and an assist to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
Jason Spezza also had three points for Ottawa, but left in the second with an upper-body injury.
Crosby's 30th goal spoiled Brian Elliott's shutout bid. But Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer with 61 points, also had a couple of costly penalties.
Elliott turned aside 44 shots, including 22 in the second period, as Ottawa won consecutive games for the first time since a season-high four-game winning streak in early November.
• Marc-Andre Fleury finished the night with 21 saves, with his best stop coming at the 10:30 mark of the third. After Ottawa forward Nick Foligno was hauled down on a breakaway, it appeared that his shot may have crossed the goal line. After a video review determined it was not a goal, he was awarded a penalty shot. It seemed like Foligno had Fleury beat after a few nifty moves, but the Penguins netminder’s glove whipped up and caught the puck at the nick of time as he was sprawled on the ice.
• Eric Godard dropped the gloves with Ottawa’s Matt Carkner just over two minutes into the game. The Senators forward landed a punch on Godard’s left eye, which sent him to the dressing room and made him questionable to return for the remainder of the game. Godard’s eye bruised and swelled shut, but he returned to the bench halfway through the second to try for a rematch with Carkner.
• After Kris Letang laid a clean hit on Jason Spezza early in the first, the Senators forward fell awkwardly into the boards and headed straight into the locker room. Spezza did not return the rest of the night, and it was later announced that he had sustained an upper-body injury. Prior to his injury, Spezza had earned helpers on each of Erik Karlsson’s tallies.
• While the Penguins went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, the Senators capitalized on two of their four power play opportunities, with Erik Karlsson factoring on both of those goals. Mike Fisher deflected his shot past Fleury at the 9:34 mark of the first; then the defenseman scored on a blast from the point just 20 seconds in. Karlsson’s second goal of the night could almost be counted as a power-play tally as well, as it came on a delayed call to the Penguins at the 6:18 mark of the first.