The Ottawa Senators made no attempts to conceal their game plan as they embarked on their post-season journey against the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night.
“Sens,” screamed the headline on their website, “aim to strike first.”
Well, as The Rolling Stones used to croon, you can’t always get what you want. And the Sens didn’t even come close to getting what they wanted.
As it turned out, Pittsburgh struck first — and in resounding fashion. Gary Roberts, a fourth-line geezer, scored the first of his two goals last night only 68 seconds after the opening faceoff, lifting the Pens into a lead they never relinquished.
Final score: Pens 4, Sens 0.
From the Sens came no goals, no exceptional plays, no sign of life and, aside from a couple of Cory Stillman shots on power plays late in the second period, no scoring threats.
No nothing, really. Except for a clunker. And probably an indication that, as many prognosticated, this could be a quick and one-sided series.
The Sens giftwrapped a shutout for Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, his first in post-season play, but the real damage was done by Roberts, the 41-year-old veteran, and superstar Evgeni Malkin, who collected three points.
Roberts, who was credited with three hits to go along with his two goals, spoke after the game of not taking anything for granted in this series “because Ottawa really gave us a battle (in the playoffs) last year.”
But these Sens are a far cry from the team that advanced to the Stanley Cup final last year.
Without their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, and fellow forwards Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, all of whom are injured and likely sidelined for the series, there’s no reason to suspect the Sens have any chance whatsoever of bouncing back against the Pens.
Truth is, in less than a year, the Sens have deteriorated into a weak and woeful squad.