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Aftermath: Senators 6, Penguins 2

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Buoyed by the return to the lineup of both Max Talbot and Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins came out with great jump against the Senators, netting the first goal of the contest 1:09 into the opening period on a Jordan Staal tally. Ottawa stormed back to get the next six goals of the game, including four in the third period to chase Marc-Andre Fleury in favor of Brent Johnson.

Pittsburgh had trouble containing the Senators’ cycling game down low at one end, and struggled to get shots through to Pascal Leclaire at the other end as Ottawa outshot the Penguins, 31-27. The Penguins were given several chances to get back into the game, but they failed to convert on their first four power-play chances until Evgeni Malkin’s man-advantage goal late in the contest. As the Penguins slowly return to health, look for them to bounce back strong from this loss when they take on an Atlanta Thrashers team on Saturday night that they swept in 2009-10.
OTTAWA (AP) – Chris Phillips scored twice in his 800th regular-season game and Pascal Leclaire made 25 saves, leading the Ottawa Senators to a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Milan Michalek got his 100th career goal and Matt Carkner, Chris Kelly and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for Ottawa, which won its second in a row. Mike Fisher had three assists for the Senators.

Ben Lovejoy keeps Jarkko Ruutu to the outside
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Getting Healthy Bodies Back
It was a bit of a struggle for the Penguins on Thursday night, particularly over the final 40 minutes of the game. A positive sign going forward for Pittsburgh was the presence of Max Talbot and Sergei Gonchar in the lineup, two glue guys on a close-knit squad. Watching their return to health should give the Penguins a jolt of energy as they continue this three-game road swing.

What Could Have Gone Better: More Shots Through
One of the top teams in the league in average shots on goal, the Penguins struggled against the Senators to get pucks through the Ottawa defense and onto Pascal Leclaire, who had left in several soft goals in recent games. The Senators blocked 22 Pittsburgh shots.
Pascal Dupuis continued his recent streak of strong performances against the Senators. He made a perfect pass right on the stick of Jordan Staal in the first period so all the Penguins center had to do was push the puck under a prone Pascal Leclaire. Dupuis generated several other quality scoring chances with his speed and finished the evening with three shots on goal. During the third period he found himself back on Sidney Crosby’s left wing, a spot he held often the past two seasons.
Pittsburgh used a perfectly executed breakout to notch the game’s opening tally. Sergei Gonchar passed out of the Penguins zone to Bill Guerin at center ice, where he left a one-touch pass for a streaking Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis broke down the right side of the Senators end and fed Jordan Staal cutting through the slot as Staal pushed the puck under Pascal Leclaire. Pittsburgh 1, Ottawa 0.

Ottawa kept the Penguins hemmed in their own zone for an extended period and such pressure paid off when Mike Fisher’s cross-ice pass found the tape of Matt Carkner at the top of the right circle. Carkner unleashed a slap shot which beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the stick side. Pittsburgh 1, Ottawa 1.

The Senators took their first lead with a power-play goal 2:31 into the middle stanza. Daniel Alfredsson’s slap shot from the top of the near circle was deflected by Milan Michalek standing just outside the crease into the back of the net. Ottawa 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Alexandre Picard made a nifty pokecheck at the Senators blue line and Fisher picked up the loose puck, springing Chris Kelly on a breakaway just seconds after he left the penalty box. Kelly sped to the net and beat Fleury with a wrist shot. Ottawa 3, Pittsburgh 1.

Chris Phillips eliminated any potential drama at 5:09 of the third period when his shot from the bottom of the far circle from an impossible angle beat Fleury along the ice. Ottawa 4, Pittsburgh 1.

Phillips added his second score and chased Fleury from the net with a goal just 2:03 after his first score. He took a pass from Fisher at the left point and threw a shot into the back of the cage through a screen provided by Chris Neil. Ottawa 5, Pittsburgh 1.

A miscommunication behind the Penguins net gave Ottawa their final goal of the evening. Jonathan Cheechoo stole the puck and his initial shot was denied by Brent Johnson, but he stayed with the rebound, flicking it over the prone netminder. Ottawa 6, Pittsburgh 1.

Evgeni Malkin closed the scoring with a late power-play goal. He took the puck from Matt Cooke behind the net and walked in front to the slot, where his wrist shot eluded Leclaire. Ottawa 6, Pittsburgh 2.
Max Talbot, the hero of the Penguins Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings to clinch the Stanley Cup, made his season debut against the Senators. He did not take long to make things happen, leading the Penguins (tied) with two hits in the opening period. Overall, Talbot played 13:17 of ice time and finished with three hits.

Head coach Dan Bylsma inserted rookie defenseman Ben Lovejoy on the left point of the power play during a late-second period opportunity, and the blueliner displayed an ability to get his powerful slap shot through traffic. Lovejoy fired two shots on Pascal Leclaire during the 40 seconds of man-advantage time the Penguins had at the end of the middle frame and had three power play shots in two chances with the top unit.

Defenseman Mark Eaton’s status was in doubt against the Senators after leaving practice early Wednesday due to back spasms. Eaton did not take part in Thursday’s morning skate, but took the warmup and pronounced himself ready to play. He tied for the team lead with three blocked shots and had one shot on goal in 22:35 of ice time.

Head coach Dan Bylsma switched his lines up during the third period, reuniting the successful postseason trio of Evgeni Malkin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Talbot. His other two lines featured Sidney Crosby back with Bill Guerin and Pascal Dupuis and Jordan Staal centering Matt Cooke and Chris Bourque. 
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, J. Staal (6), 1:09 1st period: Penguins 1, Senators 0
OTT, M. Carkner (2), 12:16 1st period: Penguins 1, Senators 1
OTT, M. Michael PP (9), 2:31 2nd period: Senators 2, Penguins 1
OTT, C. Kelly (1), 1:29 3rd period: Senators 3, Penguins 1
OTT, C. Phillips (2), 5:09 3rd period: Senators 4, Penguins 1
OTT, C. Phillips (3), 7:12 3rd period: Senators 5, Penguins 1
OTT, J.Cheechoo (2), 13:06 3rd period: Senators 6, Penguins 1
PIT, E. Malkin PP (5), 17:19 3rd period: Senators 6, Penguins 2

> The Penguins continue their three-game road swing Saturday night in Atlanta as they take on the Thrashers at 7 p.m. They conclude the trip on Monday night with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff in Florida against the Panthers. 

> Pittsburgh is now 32-11-4 in the regular season under head coach Dan Bylsma. They have a record of 15-6-3 away from Mellon Arena.

> Evgeni Malkin’s third-period power-play goal gave the Penguins man-advantage tallies in back-to-back contests for the third time this season, and for the first time since scoring in three straight games from Oct. 17-23. Thursday night also marked the first time the Penguins lost in ’09-10 when registering a power-play goal (8-1).

> Malkin’s goal gives him four points (1G-3A) in three games since his return from a shoulder strain. Malkin ranks second on the Penguins with 18 points (5G-13A) in 15 games.

> Jordan Staal continued his hot play, tying a season high by extending his point streak to three games. Staal has two goals and two assists during the streak.

> Matt Cooke also increased his scoring streak to a season-high three games with his third-period assist on Evgeni Malkin’s goal. Cooke has two goals and two assists during his streak.

> Rookie defenseman Ben Lovejoy led the Penguins with a career-high five shots on goal. He was also the only Penguin to finish with a positive rating at plus-1.

> Unsure of Mark Eaton’s playing status, the Penguins recalled defenseman Chris Lee from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday morning. Lee ended up being a healthy scratch when Eaton was able to participate.
1. C. Phillips
2. M. Fisher
3. C. Kelly
"It was our first game for Max in a long, long time
and he brought his energy and he was effective,
he was effective in the offensive zone and I
liked that. Sergei, we asked him to
play a lot of minutes tonight."

- Dan Bylsma


Author: Jason Seidling

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