Beginning a playoff series on the road is never easy. Losing the first game is even worse.
The Ottawa Senators opened their Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at the Mellon Arena with a 4-0 loss. Pittsburgh affirmed their favoured status in the series with the shutout victory against a team that ousted them from the playoffs last season, to take a 1-0 series lead.
Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins with a goal and two assists. Gary Roberts with a pair and Petr Sykora with a single were the other Pittsburgh goal scorers.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Penguins’ Roberts batted home a loose puck after a scramble in front of the Ottawa net 68 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins’ fourth line of Roberts, Maxime Talbot and Georges Laraque was responsible for the 1-0 Pittsburgh lead after crashing and banging the Senators defencemen on the second shift of the game.
Roberts loves playing against the Senators from his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The veteran winger has 23 points in 24 playoff games versus Ottawa.
The Penguins doubled their lead at 12:28 of the period after Sykora capitalized on a feed from Malkin on a two-on-one, taking advantage of a questionable pinch by Sens defenceman Mike Commodore at the Penguins blue-line.
In the second period, the Penguins blitzed Ottawa goalie with 15 shots. The Senators did gain momentum with a couple of good chances on the power play late in the period, but Fleury was there to make the saves.
With 9:26 left in the second, Sens defender Anton Volchenkov had was struck in the head by a shot that required stitches and removed him from the game.
The Sens failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities, finishing the night 0-for-7 on the power play and missing the net on another 11 offensive chances.
Malkin, with his first NHL playoff goal, and Roberts with his second of the game, scored in the final period to seal the win for Pittsburgh.