Senators Surprise Penguins 5-4 in Series Opener


Senators Surprise Penguins 5-4 in Series Opener PITTSBURGH — Erik Karlsson and
Chris Kelly scored on power plays in the second period and the Ottawa
Senators ignored their underdog tag and the Pittsburgh Penguins' recent
playoff success, surprising the Stanley Cup champions with a 5-4 victory
in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night.

Evgeni Malkin scored twice following
penalties on Peter Regin, the first barely three minutes into the game, but
the Penguins looked mostly flat and uninspired for long periods in
beginning their bid to become the NHL's first repeat champion since
Detroit in 1998.

Sidney Crosby, who piled up 15 points
in his final five regular-season games, had three assists but was held
without a shot until getting two in the third period and the Penguins —
seemingly unprepared for Ottawa's defensive pressure — were held to a
single shot during a stretch lasting 21:53 seconds. Ottawa
constantly matched shutdown defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Chris
against the Crosby line.

The Senators, one of the biggest
underdogs of the first-round qualifiers, went from being down a goal to
being up 3-1 during that period as Regin, Chris Neil and Kelly scored —
quieting a standing room crowd of 17,132 that clearly arrived expecting
another long playoff run by the home team.

Goalie Brian Elliott gave up four
goals on 21 shots in his playoff debut, but made several big stops on
Alexei Ponikarovsky and Malkin in the second period as the Penguins
pressed to tie it following Malkin's second goal, at 10:22.

Instead, the 19-year-old Karlsson
restored Ottawa's two-goal lead less than three minutes later, collecting a
rebound of a shot from the left point by Matt Cullen that rebounded off
Mike Fisher in front and wristing it into a wide-open corner of the net
to make it 4-2.

The Senators also got a fortuitous
bounce on Kelly's goal at 1:20 of the second that put them up 3-1. Chris
was attempting to wrap the puck around the boards, but it took
an odd deflection directly to Kelly close to the net with no defender
near him. Kelly also had two assists.

Pittsburgh made several more pushes,
with Craig Adams scoring at 5:16 of the third after playing all 82
regular-season games without scoring. He scored three goals during last
season's playoffs.

Again, the Senators answered as former
Penguins agitator Jarkko Ruutu accepted Neil's giveback pass to beat
Marc-Andre Fleury on a wrist shot at 9:40 of the third. Ruutu began the
rush by controlling the puck along the boards and feeding it up ice.
Fleury faced 26 shots.

Alex Goligoski cut it to one goal
again by scoring with 2:14 remaining, but the Penguins couldn't tie it
even as their white shirt-wearing fans stood, chanting, "Let's Go,
Pens!" for most of the final two minutes.

The Penguins won seven of eight
playoff rounds during the previous two seasons, losing only to Detroit
in the 2008 finals, but this time they almost seemed to relax after
Malkin scored off Sergei Gonchar's pass on their first power play of the
postseason. The goal came almost too easy and, rather than building on
the early momentum, Pittsburgh allowed it to slip away and Ottawa tied
it on Regin's goal at 8:45 off a long rebound.

Elliott is 3-0 in Mellon
Arena. … Crosby has two goals in 17 regular- season games against
Ottawa, the fewest he has scored against an Eastern Conference opponent.
… The team that won Game 1 won both Senators-Penguins series in 2007
and 2008. The teams split, with Ottawa winning in five in '07 and
Pittsburgh sweeping the following year. … Five of the last 10 Stanley
Cup winners were gone by the end of the first round or did not make the
playoffs. … The Penguins were 2-2 in Game 1s last spring. They came
back to beat Washington in the second round and Detroit in the finals.
… Pittsburgh had won its last five home playoff games. … Ottawa was 2-of-3 on the power play after ranking No. 20 during the season, while
Pittsburgh — ranked 19th — was 2-of-5.

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