|Tonight, Geno was score.|
The Senators, led by their CSI Investigator owner Eugene Melnyk, were coming off of a 7 goal performance against the astoundingly (and yet, historically) bad Columbus Blue Jackets, and featured the now mullet-less Eric Karlsson (he of the two -seseseses).
The Penguins would play the game without the services of Beau Bennett, who was off helping the American Government foil a theft of the Declaration of...haha, just kidding, Beau Bennett is out with an injury, again.
|I hate using this graphic. Truly, I do.|
(in all seriousness, get better #19. God knows you were (gulp) one of our best players this year)
Bryan Rust was called up to replace him, and Bobby Farnham was reinserted into the lineup in a clear attempt to inject some energy and pep to what has been an otherwise 'meh' Pittsburgh attack.
In other roster news, Sergei Plotnikov was scratched along with....wait, can this be true?!
ROB SCUDERI WAS A HEALTHY SCRATCH.
Adam Clendening was slotted into the lineup to replace Rob "The Human Anchor" Scuderi.
First Period Action:
The first period didn't have a whole lot of statistical action (although the Pens did muster 16 shots on goal). Ottawa's Shrekesque Craig Anderson continued the season-long trend of opponents' netminders standing on their head, keeping the score tied at nil-nil.
The primary takeaway is that the Pens finally managed to throw out four lines that each showed life and could cycle the puck in deep against the other team.
The third and fourth lines in particular were excellent in the first stanza, as was David Perron, who was a possession monster on nearly every shift.
There were no penalties called in the first period yielding no power-plays for either squad, but even with no goals being scored, Pittsburgh had to be pleased with what was perhaps their most complete period of the season (even moreso than the second period against Montreal on Tuesday).
Second Period Action:
Evgeni Malkin apparently decided that 10 periods of goal-less hockey were enough, and #71 started the second 20 minutes as though he were SHOT OUT OF A BUK MISSILE SYSTEM (...that's a Russian military joke) and scored only 23 seconds in to put the Pens up 1-0.
#71's first goal of the year also gave Pittsburgh its first lead of the season (yikes), and set the Consol Energy Center into a frenzy.
Rookie Daniel Sprong fed off the crowd to the tune of his first goal in the NHL just two minutes after Geno's opening tally, and the Pens led 2-0.
Sprong's goal was an illustration of the excellent work that the lower two lines had been doing all night long for the Pens.
Matt Cullen would undo some of that good work when he was sent off at the 7:46 mark for holding, putting the Senators and their Karlsson-led power-play to work.
Somehow, the Pens managed to kill off the penalty without the services of PK-extraordinaire Rob Scuderi, and the Pens kept the Sens scoreless, in part because of two stellar saves by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins would get their own power-play chance a few minutes later when the aforementioned Karlsson lost his cool and drew a minor penalty for slashing Malkin.
Pittsburgh's primary PP unit continued to struggle, and the advantage went by the wayside as Ottawa kept Crosby, Kessel, Letang et al out of the net.
Clendening drew a penalty late in the second putting the Senators back on the power-play, but the Pens were able to kill off the penalty until time expired.
Third Period Action:
Pittsburgh had a break early in the third when Eric Karlsson was sent off the ice for the second time, this time for interfering with Cullen on a partial breakaway. Just seconds later, the Pens were the beneficiary of a borderline terrible call by the referees that put Ottawa down two men (the zebras ruled that Mark Borowiecki cleared the puck over the glass in his own defensive zone, but he was actually in the neutral zone).
In the end, the Sens' anger was much ado about nothing, as Pittsburgh fumbled away the two-man advantage and the power-play unit continued to be sponsored by Coors ("Rocky Mountain Cold").
Clendening was whistled off for the second time a few minutes later, this time for holding. While Clendening took two penalties to put the Pens down a man twice, his overall level of play was still superior to that of Scuderi, who may just amount to being a nightly healthy scratch so long as the blue liners remain healthy.
Farnham and Borowiecki would square off and have an abbreviated fight following a hard Borowiecki hit on Rust, but neither team was able to generate any momentum off of the scrap.
The line of Sprong/Cullen/Rust would generate another excellent scoring chance off of a deep give-and-go, but Anderson was able to square up and make the save.
Malkin had a mini-moment of galloping when he went right-to-left and then shot back to the far post, barely missing his second goal of the night.
With four minutes left to go and the Penguins protecting both the lead and Fleury's shutout, the Sens began to activate multiple forecheckers to try and pressure the Pens' defensemen to give the puck away in their own end.
Ottawa would pull Anderson, and what followed was super choppy "action" with multiple offsides and icings (on both teams).
Pittsburgh would keep the Senators off of the scoreboard the rest of the way, and with Marc-Andre Fleury posting his first white washing of the year...
YOUR PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HAVE WON A GAME!!!
Penguins win, Penguins win.
Congratulations to Sprong on his first NHL goal, and here's hoping he can follow in the path of Jordan Staal and remain with the big club for longer than 11 games!