Penguins draw even in series against Senators

Doug Mendoza
May 24, 2017

While it might not be firewagon, exciting hockey from an outsider's perspective, it is what the Senators need to do to win and it was nothing if not effective.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were shocked with an overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

But let's take a second to appreciate the miracles that are being attempted elsewhere, too. Pittsburgh controlled play for the most of both games and got a ton of power play time but couldn't make the most of it.

The Senators improved to 6-1 when pushed beyond regulation during the postseason to give them early control of the best-of-seven series against the defending Stanley Cup champions, a matchup few outside of the guys in the red, white and black jerseys gave them a shot of winning. "You name it, they have it". Still, Crosby hasn't scored a goal since netting two in Game 1 against Washington, and he's only had three points in the four games since his injury. He now has five goals and 10 points in 13 playoff games. Or something. Look, these Penguins are as top-heavy as any team in 25 years. "They've got too many tools and players for us to start focusing on particular guys or start worrying about them every time they're on the ice". But if we pay special attention to Crosby, then Malkin's going to give it to us.

They need to get out of that mindset quickly.

There are lots of teams with stars, but this is an exceptionally imbalanced team right now. But were expecting Crosby at his best the next game and Malkin and Kessel and those guys, and its going to be very, very, very, very hard.”.

The Penguins' Sunday morning practice consisted of drills deliberately created to mimic the Senators' style that stifled the Penguins' play so effectively on Saturday.

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Jean-Gabriel Pageau's goal was his eighth during the 2017 playoffs, putting him second in Senators' franchise history for the most goals in a single postseason. That includes Crosby, the team captain.

After getting phone calls from Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey, he chose Edmonton.

Those sound like flattering comparisons, but these Penguins aren't those powerhouses, and they aren't close. With no natural rivalry versus the Senators, the Penguins didn't have the same edge they did in the first two rounds. It also doesn't help that the Senators have a defenceman like Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang is out. They won the Cup, they know how to win and they're a confident group.

Phil Kessel beat Craig Anderson with a wrist shot 13:05 into the third period as Pittsburgh finally broke through against Ottawa's packed-in defense. Roethlisberger, who announced last month he's returning for a 14th season, and the rest of the Steelers begin organized team activities next week. This Pittsburgh team is deeply vulnerable, and if it's going to win the big dogs have to carry the weight.

"He just wasn't finishing and it gets to be a mental block and you start thinking you're not doing the right things". We know they should, generally speaking, be able to get out of their zone without much problem. Before, we talked, ‘Hey theres going to be a little pushback, but it always stays a little fictional because you havent lived it. And it might even be worse because they have such high-end players. We've waited for chances.

"I think Marc deserves the opportunity to play", Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. And what Pittsburgh is trying might be stranger and harder, and maybe by far.

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