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Game 1 Roundup: Penguins Have Been In This Situation Before

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Being down 1-0 in a series is nothing new for the Penguins. During their journey to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009, Pittsburgh twice found itself down 2-0 – to the Washington Capitals in the second round and in the Final against the Detroit Red Wings.

On both occasions the Penguins dug in deep and rallied to win the series in seven games – on enemy ice nonetheless. Their hole isn’t nearly as deep following a 5-4 setback to the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

“I think that we have to be well aware of what happened tonight,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “They were the team that was able to say that they got to their game and played their game. They played very well, and we weren’t able to do that. We’re down 1-0 in the race of four. They got the first one, but we have to be ready to execute better, have a different mentality and get to our game a little bit differently than we did tonight.”

Pittsburgh, which rallied twice from two-goal deficits on Wednesday, maybe helped build some momentum heading into Friday night’s Game 2 at Mellon Arena by playing hard to the buzzer.

“It’s a long series,” said Alex Goligoski, whose goal with 2:24 remaining in the third period drew the Penguins within one heading down the stretch. “We just have to go out there and keep battling. I think we did that pretty well.”

Pittsburgh held its only lead when Evgeni Malkin scored on a power play 3:03 into the first period, but the Senators answered by scoring the next three goals to take a 3-1 lead 1:20 into the second period.

Malkin added his second goal of the night midway through the second, but Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson answered that tally a little less than three minutes later.

Craig Adams’ tally in the third period brought the Penguins back to within one, 4-3, and seemed to rev up the crowd, but that dissipated when former Penguin Jarkko Ruutu quickly restored the two-goal lead for the Senators.

“We would get one back and then couldn’t make it stick,” Adams said. “We weren’t as good as we needed to be.”

“That is big in the playoffs,” said Goligoski of teams answering quickly. “They were able to do that on a couple of occasions.”

Adams Lights the Lamp

Craig Adams was simply saving his best for when it counted the most. The veteran forward went the duration of the regular season without a goal, but he is proving to be quite a postseason hero for the Penguins.

Adams picked up his first goal since scoring in Game 4 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Fnials on May 26, 2009 against the Carolina Hurricanes when he fired a backhander over the glove of Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott 5:16 into the third period.

“If you keep shooting it one is going to go in,” Adams said. “It should have happened a couple times for me this year. It didn’t but I was lucky to get one tonight.”

Adams goal was huge at the time, as it brought the Penguins to within 4-3 early in the third period, but Pittsburgh could not overcome Ottawa’s relentless attack.

“It was good because we got back there in the game for a minute but it would have been good to make it stand up,” Adams said.

More Shots Please 

One of the keys for the Penguins going forward will be getting more pucks thrown towards Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott, who was making his first career postseason start in Game 1.

Elliott picked up the win on Wednesday, but the Penguins feel as though they didn’t give him a good enough test, throwing just 21 shots his way.

“We wanted to get more shots than we did,” Adams said. “We didn’t do a good enough job getting to the offensive zone and getting shots on net. We want to throw as many shots at him as we can. That is true of any goalie, not just this guy.”

To their credit, Ottawa’s defensive strategy sure played a huge part in helping Elliott. In addition to collapsing all five players tight into the defensive house area, the Senators also did a great job stepping in front of Pittsburgh shots, blocking 18 on the night.

“We only had 21 shots, and their team did a great job of protecting him and getting five (guys) around the cage,” Bylsma said. “They had five around the house, and then when it went to our point, they were in shooting lanes and blocked shots. They did a very good job of that. (Elliot) was up to the task for the pucks that we did get around there for the most part.”

Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston, who along with his players maintained earlier in the day they weren’t at all worried about Elliot heading into Game 1, was pleased with how his second-year backstop handled the pressures that come with playing on the road during the postseason.

“At times, he made some real key saves,” Clouston said. “At times, he might have looked a little bit nervous, but the best thing is that we got the win. That’s the most important thing now. It’s not how you win. It’s making sure that you do get the win. He’ll be no different from the rest of us. He’ll be a little bit more comfortable in the next game, and we’ll do better.”

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