Penguins Fizzle, Senators Sizzle in Game 1 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Fizzle, Senators Sizzle in Game 1

We’re No. 2 and We Try Harder.

The popular catchphrase, once the hub of a clever ad campaign run by Avis Rent-A-Car in its war with giant rival Hertz, seemed an altogether appropriate theme for the Penguins’ disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to Ottawa last night.

Assuming the role of Avis, the Senators outskated, outworked…heck…pretty much out everythinged the black and gold in the Eastern Conference Final opener.

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Indeed, for the majority of the evening, the Pens—with the notable exceptions of Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust—appeared to be dragging personal anchors around the PPG Paints Arena ice surface. Even our captain, Sidney Crosby, was practically invisible, a rare occurrence indeed.

Our guys hit goal posts, misfired on passes, turned the puck over (a grisly 17 giveaways) and mostly shot center mass in disjointed one-and-done fashion on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who stopped 27 shots to earn star of the game honors.

The Senators and their nettlesome 1-3-1 trap no doubt had a little something to do with it. In stark contrast to the Pens, who looked very much a like team that couldn’t press the reset button quickly enough following an arduous seven-game set with the Capitals, the visitors came ready to play.

While the home team struggled to get up to game speed, muffing an early 5-on-3 power play, Ottawa struck on a nice bit of work by the eventual No. 2 star, Bobby Ryan. The native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey (a Philly suburb) pounced on a dead-fish giveaway by defenseman Brian Dumoulin behind the Pens’ net and fed a beautiful, no-look backhand pass to a circling Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The feisty Sens center wasted little time, roofing a one-timer to the short side on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his eighth goal of the playoffs.

Although the bounces for the most part went the other way, the Pens did receive a welcome dose of good fortune late in the second period. Fleury appeared to smother Alexandre Burrows’ follow-up of a Fredrik Claesson wraparound before inexplicably moving his left pad off the post. The puck clearly slipped over the goal line before the whistle blew, but a referee ruled the play dead to negate any challenge from the Ottawa bench.

The 18,614 in attendance finally had reason to cheer with 5:35 left in regulation play. Ron Hainsey chipped the puck into the Senators’ end, then hustled in deep to retrieve it. A millisecond before he was flattened along the end boards by Ottawa’s Marc Methot, the veteran defenseman settled the puck for Chris Kunitz. “Kuny” circled out of the corner and fired a no-look shot toward the net. Malkin cut in front of Anderson, spun and deflected the puck through the five hole, to the delight of the capacity crowd.

Shortly after Fleury made a game-saving pad save on Kyle Turris near the 17-minute-mark, Phil Kessel had a chance to snatch the lead for the locals. His shot rang off the crossbar, setting the stage for overtime.

Unfortunately, the Pens fell like a perfectly positioned stack of dominos. Five minutes into the extra frame, Pageau beat Crosby on a draw in the Sens’ end. Rookie Jake Guentzel lost an ensuing puck battle to Erik Karlsson, who flipped the rubber up the boards.

Justin Schultz pinched aggressively in an effort to intercept the clearing attempt. Mark Stone banged into the Pens’ defender, causing the puck to pop loose. Pageau poked it away from Crosby and past a corkscrewing Rust to Ryan, who set sail for the Penguins’ zone. Ryan blew past Olli Maatta and roofed a nifty backhander over Fleury to the blocker side to settle the proceedings.

Did I mention that Ryan was taken immediately behind Crosby in the 2005 Entry Draft? Yes, he was the No. 2 overall pick.


Ottawa held an edge in most statistical categories, including shot attempts (61-56), shots on goal (35-28), hits (32-27), blocked shots (22-14) and faceoffs (36-35).

The Penguins were 0-for-5 on the power play. The Senators were 0-for-2.

Malkin (No. 3 star) and Rust led the locals with four shots on goal each. Kessel had three. Crosby and Kunitz topped the team with four hits apiece. Nick Bonino enjoyed a strong game in the faceoff circle, winning 10 of 12 draws. Fleury made 33 saves.

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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 15, 2017 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Wilson? Are you kidding me? he was a wrecking ball all on his own, 10 thundering hits!!!! And Ottawa really didn’t like it. They liked to hit and hurt Rust and Schultz but couldn’t handle geting back what they gave!

    Carter Rowney 7 Hits

    Way to go Kessel!

    And way to go team D. finally, finally you trimmed those shot totals down to the lower 20s.

    Oh and by the way refs, that major scrum at the end was all on you. You can go pat yourselves on the backs for a pathetic job of reffing that game.

  2. Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
    May 15, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Hi guys,

    I’m wondering if any of you have any thoughts or insights on whether Hagelin could or should be back in the lineup? I guess he must be nursing either the old or a new injury, but it seems to me that – if he’s healthy – his speed (especially through the neutral zone) would be a big bonus against the Ottawa defence. Btw, this isn’t a knock on either Rowney or Kuhnhackl – those guys have been amazing this post-season.

    Either way, GO PENS!


    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 15, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hey Jayelene,

      I can’t speak for others. But to me, Hagelin represents one of the biggest mysteries…and disappointments…of this season.

      I’m sure his play this postseason has been hampered by the lingering effects of a knee injury. But going back to the regular season, it seems his offensive skills had all but evaporated.

      I’m aware that Hagelin’s traditionally been a streaky scorer, prone to hot streaks and dry spells. But, to me, he showed little to no chemistry with anyone this season, especially his old HBK linemates.

      He’s struggled to carry the puck or make even the most rudimentary of plays. This on the heels of being one of the Pens’ best players last spring…a real catalyst.

      Frankly, it’s got me puzzled. Maybe he’s lost his confidence. Or perhaps Hagelin was playing over his head last season.

      My bottom line? I’d rather play a kid who brings some energy and grit than a guy who, for the most part, has been ineffective and uninspired to boot.


    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 15, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Hey Jaylene,

      I am pretty much in agreement with everything Rick said.

      I just want to add one more thing, Hagelin had played in almost 100 play-off games over the previous 5 seasons, meaning he has been playing into late May early June pretty much his whole career. If the Pens, as a whole team are tired from last years play-off run, imagine what Hagelin is feeling. He is a professional so, he no doubt won’t admit it, but he has to be exhausted.

      Oh yes, let’s not forget the 28 international hockey games he has played in that time for Team Sweden in the Olympics, World Cup, etc.

      I am down on him right now. I would rather see Rowney, Wilson, and Kuhnhackl in there than Hagelin or Kunitz. The team has a much better record when those three kids are playing compared to when Hagelin and/or Kunitz are playing, this playoff year.

      If Hagelin doesn’t play again this year, maybe he will be way more effective next year, with what could be considered an extended rest compared to the amount of time off he normally gets off.

    • May 15, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink


      I’m with the Rick’s on this one. I’m going to add that I believe he was best playing with a defense man that was able to spring him on fast breaks. Possibly the lack of Letang is hurting his output.

      Malkin pulling all season to have Kessel on his line not Bonino’s has both lowered Hagelin & Bonino’s offensive numbers. Even though he had a goal, Hagelin didn’t look good in his return from injury. It seemed he was afraid to go into the rough areas particularly the front of the net. It seemed to me he was always best when he took the puck straight to the net.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 15, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        Excellent points. Who knows how long Letang was nursing his herniated disc, without Letangs ability to get the puck going the other way, like he did last year no doubt has taken its toll.

        And playing on a stripped down version of the 3rd line quite often didn’t help.

        Also, your point about Hagelin using his speed in a direct assault on the net would definitely take a hit if he was rushed back is well taken too.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        May 15, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Wow, Phil … excellent observations regarding Hagelin.

        I couldn’t put my finger on the difference in his play, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

        “Peripheral” definitely comes to mind.


    • Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
      May 15, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Good points, all … thanks, guys. I guess I’m guilty here of living in the past, remembering Hagelin, in full flight, receiving those perfect outlet passes. (Your right, Phil – in my mind, it’s always Letang making those perfect passes.) I wish that version of Hagelin was available for us, but I agree with you guys, we haven’t seen him in some time. On the other hand, like I said, I didn’t mean the question as a knock on Rowney or Kuhnhackl. Those guys bring a level of intensity that’s hard to replace. So … GO PENS!

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        May 15, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Hey Jayelene,

        I wish “that” version of Hagelin was available, too. When he’s in a groove like he was last spring, he brings so much to the table.

        I’m sure he’ll get another chance in the near future, providing his knee heals. Hopefully, he’ll be able to step it up.


        • Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
          May 15, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          I’m with you, Rick – wishing for the version of Hagelin that skated during last year’s playoffs, when the HBK line was absolutely terrorizing the opposition. (I remember t-shirt shopping in the Strip District, and I swear there was more specific HBK gear than there was just regular Pens’ stuff!) Regardless … GO PENS!

  3. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    May 15, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Hey all,

    Great comments and observations.

    I think Game 1 was very much a “hangover” game for the Pens, as ESPN’s Barry Melrose aptly described it. But it underscores my chief concern about this series.

    I’m worried our guys won’t be able to dial up their energy level and sense of urgency. Ottawa’s hungry and focused … they don’t need an invitation to show up. But the Pens?

    They’ve lost three out of four and, for the most part, haven’t looked good during that stretch. I just sense we’re a tired hockey team … physically, mentally and emotionally. And tired hockey teams make mistakes at crucial junctures.

    If we don’t find a second wind, and soon, this series could get away from us.


  4. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    That was painful to watch. That is all I have to say.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      May 14, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Hey Coach
      Yes it was.The funny thing was that watching this game 1 and the Caps series is the Pen’s were skating last night unlike in the Caps series where we were physically challenged on every play. We could not finish last night.
      I thought we would break thru.
      Who do you start in net next game?

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Hey Jim,

        Goaltending wasn’t the problem last night. I am not a fan of reaction goalies, I like positional goalies better, so there is always a slight tug toward choosing Murray. And Fleury could have played the first goal a little better. He moved more laterally than forward, and I do understand why he was moving laterally, since it was a left handed shot, but had he moved more forward as well he still would have protected the short side. But in the end, that goal was Domoulin’s poor puck possession, with a pathetically weak pass against the grain.

        Once they had the lead it was going to be tough to beat the trap, and tougher still when they played like they did.

        As long as MAF doesn’t turn in back to back cluncker games like games 5 and 6 against the Caps, I wouldn’t pull him.

        I don’t know how many times I saw the Sens all collapse low in the defensive zone but the Pens didn’t even look up to the points or try to sneak into the high slot, particularly on the power play.

        I think what I would do is have a hard practice today, like the one I had before game seven. If the team doesn’t respond to good cop, give them bad cop.

  5. I R A Darth Aggie's Gravatar I R A Darth Aggie
    May 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Fix the dang power play.

  6. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    Happy Mother’s Day All ! 🙂
    Got the dreaded call from my older sister about 1 pm my time today. Since we are the only 2 left alive in my family she called to wish me Happy Mothers Day. Like my Mom was, my sister is an avid and very knowledgeable hockey person.(A hockey mom for 5 boys and a daughter who played).
    She made four comments to me about the game last night. I will repeat them and not add any of my own commentary, because she did a better job then I ever could Rick ! Here is what she said.
    1. Thank you Pittsburgh for giving us a win last night. It was very obvious that we played above our weight and your team did not.( Her way of saying the Sen’s played the best game of the play offs to date.) The Pen’s are capable of much more.
    2. You could not score on 5 power plays at the start of the game !! 5 power plays !! A 5-3 as well. Our ( Ottawa) PK is not that good.
    What is wrong with your power play ?? There was no pressure on the net.
    You can not beat any NHL caliber goalie in the quarter-finals of the Stanley Cup, without second and 3rd attempts. Crash the net !
    3. Ottawa was very lucky. Pens hit 4 posts and 2 missed open nets last night.
    The Pens teams do not usually miss that much..Plus the Pens had the puck in our end for extended periods of time….something that did not happen in the Washington series.To her in the Washington series,( except game 7.. 3rd period), the Pens were reacting to the play of the Capitals, and not pre- acting with the puck.Taking the play to the Caps. Last night the Pens were the better of the 2 teams in that department.
    4. Face offs… Sens are not that good, but Pittsburgh is worse. Crosby in particular. (That really ) surprised her.

    Final comment was that the Pen’s will regroup and we win the next 4 games, unless there are injuries, and I will not get to see the Pen’s play in Ottawa in game 6. She was certain of it.

    That is from one of the biggest Ottawa fans there are and she told me they had seasons tickets since Ottawa entered the league 25 years a go.She knows her team well and most of the others in the NHL too.

    I could not add anything to that Rick.

    • Jeff's Gravatar Jeff
      May 15, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      There are a few things I’d like to comment on each of the 5 points your sister made. She sounds very hockey savy but I think some of the observations are a little off.
      1. This was far from the Sens best playoffs. They were playing an incredibly passive trap trying to preserve the 1 goal lead. Most pundits and fans knew that this would not be sustainable for the game let alone the series. Once the Pens scored it was actually a relief to see the Sens play with an actual forcheck. Today will be a tougher test and I don’t think Ottawa can win playing the same style as Saturday.
      2. The Sens PK is actually 2nd best to Nashville in these playoffs and has been playing incredibly well. They are will to sacrifice their bodies to block shots which is something that has never been by a complete Sens squad.
      3.The post thing also went both ways last night with Ottawa hitting at least 3 posts. I do agree that the Sens are collapsing in very tight leaving the point wide open. If Pitt can just keep firing and get some pucks through it will make a difference in the game and on the power play.
      4. i agree that neither team is great on face offs but Pageau is very good and Turris seemed to be giving Crosby fits in the dot. I think this series goes to at least 6 games and tonight’s game should be more energetic and intense than the last one!

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 15, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Hi Jeff,
        Thanks for the comments.Especially about the Sen’s hitting a few posts of their own. Your right, it goes both ways…
        In reflection for me the most disturbing of her comments moving forward in the series is her comment about the power play. For all the hype people talk about our high skilled forwards, our power play all season has not been what it used to be ! I could be all wrong on this, but it seems to me all thru this past season we would play one or two games and our power play looked fantastic, but then for some unexplained reason we would go for a week or 2 and the PP would be terrible. Again for no apparent reason.
        With regards to their Penalty Kill I think she was making reference to the entire league and the Sens regular season to date. It was not a strong point for them.
        The other fact not mentioned was why did the Sens take so many penalties? I believe we forced them to take penalties because we were the more dominant team on Saturday night.
        With the names Crosby, Malkin, Kessel we should have scored more on the PP in game 1. I think all Pens fans feel that way.
        I also agree that tonight if the Sens play as they did in game 1 our superior talent base should win us the game.

        But that is why we watch the game, because anything can happen…


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