How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by golf, resulting in a hockey delay?
Luckily for NBC it was worth the wait. The 25th overtime game of the 2017 Playoffs, only three shy of the all-time record and it did not disappoint. Senators topped the Penguins 2-1 with a top-shelf beauty from Bobby Ryan in OT.
Guy Boucher has said it’s the Senators against the world. And they’re playing like it. The Senators outshot (35 to 28), outhit (32 to 27) and out blocked (22 to 14) the Penguins, and all-around outplayed them. The Penguins were able to tie it late in the 3rd with a goal by Evgeni Malkin (14:25), but even Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t save them this time.
Both goalies had some near-impossible saves but Craig Anderson stole the show. He had 27 saves with a .964 save percentage and gave the Senators the dominant upper hand against last year’s Stanley Cup Champions.
After almost blowing a 3-1 lead against Washington but coming off of a close-to-perfect Game 7 vs. the Capitals, it was unsure which version of Pittsburgh we were going to see.
The Penguins’ offensive struggles were evident when the 4th line, consisting of Wilson-Cullen-Rowney, was the go-to option for Coach Sullivan. But the offense wasn’t the only thing lacking.
The absence of Kris Letang and Trevor Daley were felt on the ice as well, taking away two key defensemen for the team and forcing Chad Ruhwedel to try and fill their shoes. While Letang is out for the rest of the season, there is a possibility Daley, who was sidelined with a lower-body injury, will return for the series at some point.
Although Daley’s last few appearances have been less than stellar, anything that would give them some different looks would probably be welcomed at this point. Pittsburgh was 23-15 at home in Game 1 of a playoff series going into tonight but looked lethargic next to Ottawa. This was not a team that looked like they won the Stanley Cup last year.
Ottawa’s defense, particularly in the neutral zone, definitely rattled Pittsburgh in the 1st. The Pens went on 4 power plays in the first period but were unable to capitalize on any of the opportunities, thanks in large part to the Sens continuously dumping it back in Pittsburgh’s zone.
The Senators were the first on the board with a goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau (14:32). A lackluster attempt at puck retrieval from Ron Hainsey of the Penguins resulted in an opportunity captured by Ottawa.
Evgeni Malkin was able to answer late in the 3rd to send the teams to overtime but it was Bobby Ryan, who went second in the 2005 draft (after Sidney Crosby), who scored the OT winner to give the Senators 1-0 series lead. This is only the second road playoff win in Senators history where Erik Karlsson hasn’t scored a point. Ottawa is now 6-1 in overtime playoff games this season.
Game 2 will take place in Pittsburgh at 7PM CT on Monday before both teams head to Ottawa.