Thoughts and observations from the Pens' 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final...
* This wasn't the Pens' best effort. As much as they were aware of the possibility of an emotional letdown after their seven-game series against the Caps, and as hard as they tried to guard against it, it's only human nature. But they tried to battle through it and were able to force overtime despite not having a ton of gas in the tank.
* The biggest story coming out of this game was Pittsburgh's power play. They had four opportunities in the first period, including 45 seconds on a 5-on-3, and didn't make the most of them. They had five total and weren't able to convert any of them. They are now mired in an 0-for-10 stretch and are two for their last 22 dating back to the last series. The Pens started strong, creating a few good looks - and hitting a post - during that two-man advantage. However, their performance dropped off as the game went on. The Pens have had their moments on the power play these playoffs, but they need to figure out how to be more consistent.
* There was a lot of talk entering this game about Ottawa's 1-3-1 neutral zone…structure? Strategy? Trap? Whatever you want to call it, it's given them success this season, especially when it comes to slowing teams down. However, the Sens weren't able to negate Pittsburgh's speed. For the most part, the Pens would be patient in surveying their options and once they made a decision, they quickly executed and moved through the neutral zone fast.
* However, once the Pens got up ice, they did a good job of working the puck in the offensive zone but didn't do a good enough job of getting it to the net. They didn't make Craig Anderson work enough. At times they tried to force plays and passes that weren't there or they just couldn't penetrate. Credit to the Sens as well. They aren't just structured in the neutral zone; they're structured in their own end as well and they made it tough for the Pens to break that.
* The Pens did have, as Chris Kunitz put it, "spurts and shifts" in Ottawa's zone and leading the charge in that regard was the trio of Carter Rowney, Matt Cullen and Scott Wilson. Those guys had a number of extended offensive zone shifts, holding onto the puck and creating chances. I was really impressed with their game.