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Aftermath: Senators 3, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Pittsburgh couldn’t contain Ottawa’s loaded top line. Jason Spezza exploded for a hat trick and the Penguins couldn’t pull off another of their accustomed comebacks. The Penguins did battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits but couldn’t get that final tying goal. Pittsburgh just couldn’t muster enough offense with only 19 shots on goal and five in the final period. They pressured hard late in the final minutes of the game but it was too little too late by that juncture. 
Jason Spezza scored his second career hat trick to power the Ottawa Senators past the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-2 victory at Scotiabank Place on Saturday afternnon. Spezza tallied all three Senators' goals and held off Pittsburgh's attempted comeback.

Spezza now has 11 goals on the season. Linemates Dany Heatley (two assists) and Daniel Alfredsson (one assist) also contributed as Ottawa held on to 2-0 and 3-1 advantages. Goaltender Alex Auld stopped 18-of-19 shots.
Pittsburgh registered two special teams goals: Jordan Staal (power-play) and Evgeni Malkin (short-handed). Staal finished the game with a goal and an assist. Malkin, the NHL's scoring leader, added to his totals with a goal and assist and now has 43 points on the season (11G-32A). Sidney Crosby, second in the NHL scoring race (13-27-40) behind his teammate, had an assist.

Kris Letang and Chris Neil battle for a loose puck (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Special Teams Goals
Pittsburgh notched two goals in special teams situations. First, Jordan Staal scored his 50th career goal on a power-play in the second period. The Penguins went 1 for 2 with the man-advantage. In the third period, Evgeni Malkin scored his second short-handed goal of the season to make it a one-goal game.

What Didn't Work: Containing the Pizza Line
Entering the game, the Pizza Line (Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson) had accounted for half of Ottawa’s total goals on the season (28 of the team’s 56). Now they’re responsible for over half of the Senators’ goals. The Pizza Line accounted for all three of Ottawa’s goals in the game thanks to Spezza’s second career hat trick
Jordan Staal notched his third multiple-point game of the season with a power-play goal and a short-handed assist. Staal did what he’s supposed to do on the man-advantage. He went to the front of the net and kept his stick ready. Staal was screening Senators goaltender Alex Auld when Evgeni Malkin had the puck at the point. When Malkin dished to Sidney Crosby on the near half wall, Staal adjusted his body and got his stick to the ice. Crosby sent a shot-pass right to Staal, who was ready for it and re-directed it into the net. Staal was killing a penalty with Malkin in the third period. Brenden Bell’s attempted a pass from the midpoint. Staal got his stick on the puck to create a turnover. Malkin started sprinting forward as soon as he saw Staal get his stick on the puck. Staal then sent a flip pass into the neutral zone over Bell and to where Malkin could pick it up with speed. Malkin went in for the score but Staal created the play.
Penguins head coach Michel Therrien reunited the Two-Headed Monster with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin skating alongside Petr Sykora early in the first period, possibly to catch Ottawa by surprise. He eventually went back to the normal pairings but the trio was once again put together in the third period with Pittsburgh trailing.

In an interestingly funny sequence midway through the first period, Ottawa high-sticked a puck out of its zone. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson skated for the puck but couldn’t touch it because of the high stick. However, Hal Gill didn’t touch it either because the Penguins weren’t completely set in their zone and Alfredsson was right on top of him. The puck trickled all the way through the Penguins zone and to goaltender Dany Sabourin, who covered it with his glove for a whistle.

Youngster Nick Foligno had a completely vacant net to shoot into but hit the side of the cage. Jesse Winchester skated around Mark Eaton to the side of the net and Sabourin went down early in anticipation of a shot. Instead, Winchester skated around him and sent a pass into the slot with Sabourin trapped in foreign territory. With a wide-open net, Foligno shot the puck and hit the side of the net.

Kris Letang showed a little moxie when Antoine Vermette took a whack at Sabourin while he was lying facedown covering the puck. Letang came over to defend his goaltender and both teams got in each other’s faces as a consequence.

There was a great sequence of action as the first period was coming to an end. Letang got hit hard twice in the Pittsburgh zone. Brooks Orpik got some payback for his defensive partner by drilling Alexandre Picard. Winchester had a point-blank shot stopped and Sabourin lost his stick in the ensuing scrum. Ottawa kept pressuring until Letang managed to get the puck out of the zone.

Jason Spezza got Ottawa on the board for an early 1-0 lead. Spezza took a shot from the lower far dot. Sabourin came 15 feet out of the net to challenge the shot. Sabourin made the save but Spezza collected the rebound and sent a wraparound shot into the cage before Sabourin could get back to the net.

Spezza gave the Senators a 2-0 lead midway through the second period with his second goal of the game. Alfredsson had the puck behind the Pittsburgh net. He fought through a check by Letang. Orpik came behind and nailed Alfredsson but not before he got off a centering pass. Staal jumped on Dany Heatley at the top of the crease but Heatley was able to re-directed the puck right to Spezza, who was all alone in the slot. Alfredsson really made the play by drawing both Penguins defensemen behind the net. He then managed to make a great centering pass with both blue liners trapped.

Eric Godard battled Chris Neil. Godard got Neil’s helmet off early and delivered a few shots. Neil, who missed the previous six games following knee surgery, took the worst of that fight as Godard landed several blows to the face, although Neil had a wide grin at the end that displayed his missing teeth.

Jordan Staal got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard with his 50th career goal on a power-play. Staal was setup in the high slot. Crosby wound up for what appeared to be a slap shot, but instead sent a slap-pass right off of Staal’s stick and behind Ottawa goaltender Alex Auld.

Spezza notched the hat trick with a fluky bounce play with less than a minute left in the second period. The puck was dumped behind the Penguins goal. Spezza’s centering attempt went off of Letang’s skate and sneaked by Sabourin’s pad to give Ottawa a 3-1 lead. Sabourin pulled his pad off the post for a split second to prepare for a shot from Dany Heatley in front. But the puck never got to Heatley after hitting Letang's skate.

The last time Malkin notched a short-handed goal was against Ottawa in the first game of the season in Stockholm, Sweden. Malkin showed how dangerous he is as a penalty killer with another short-handed score against the Senators. Brenden Bell had the puck at the mid-point and tried to get a pass to Alfredsson on the far boards. Staal got his stick in the passing lane to intercept the pass. Staal pushed the puck ahead where Malkin grabbed it with speed. Malkin sent a quick shot blocker side behind Auld to make it a 3-2 game.

Pittsburgh had several great opportunities in the game's final minutes. Letang had two shots, including one from the high slot. Orpik also got a slapper in on goal but the Penguins couldn’t get to the rebound. Malkin had a great chance with less than 20 seconds left. He sent a shot from between the circles high on Auld. The Senators backstop consumed the puck to keep the Penguins from tying the game.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 15-7-4 on the year, with an 8-4-2 mark on the road. Pittsburgh is 10-3-2 in its last 15 games and finished its three-game road trip with a 1-1-1 mark.

> Jason Spezza scored an unassisted goal at 4:01 of the second period for an early 1-0 Ottawa lead. The Senators had a 2-0 advantage following Spezza’s second goal of the game. Jordan Staal scored his ninth goal of the season on a power play at 16:17 of the second period. Spezza notched his second career hat trick with 38 seconds left in the second period. Evgeni Malkin registered his second short-handed goal of the year at 9:12 of the third.

> Pittsburgh was outshot by Ottawa by a 31-19 margin. Pittsburgh has only been outshot four times in its past 15 games.

> The Penguins power play, which has struggled lately, added another goal against the Senators. Pittsburgh went 1 for 2 at Ottawa. The Penguins have scored three power-play goals on their last four opportunities.

> Malkin recorded a short-handed goal and assist against Ottawa to increase his NHL scoring lead with 43 points (11G-32A). Malkin’s 32 assists are also a league best. Malkin is on pace for a 100-assist season (101). Only three players in NHL history have recorded 100-assist seasons (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzkey and Bobby Orr). Malkin has four goals and eight assists for 12 points in his last six games.

> Crosby recorded an assist against the Senators. Crosby climbed the rankings and is now second in the league in scoring with 40 points (13G-27A). His 27 assists are second most in the league, behind only teammate Malkin’s 32. Crosby has six goals and nine assists for 15 points in his past six games.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (11+32=43) and Crosby (13+27=40). The last time Pittsburgh had the top two scorers in the league was the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux (first) and Jaromir Jagr (second) topped the NHL. The team also had that distinction when Lemieux (first) and Kevin Stevens (second) did it in 1991-92.

> Dany Sabourin made 28 saves against the Senators. He’s 5-2-2 in his past 10 starts (with one no decision).

> Staal notched a power-play goal and assist for a two-point afternoon and third multiple-point game of the season. The goal was also the 50th of his young career.
1. Jason Spezza, OTT
2. Daniel Alfredsson, OTT
3. Dany Heatley, OTT
“He was trying to pass to (Dany) Heatley in front. The pass
was gone, I made the move. It hit (Kris Letang’s) skate and
went in. Good bounce for him."
- Dany Sabourin told FSN Pittsburgh of the game-winner



Author: Sam Kasan

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