Well, that felt great. There’s no other way to put it. Watching the Ottawa Senators win Game 1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins was fantastic. The fact that the Sens held their own was great too.
The first period started off a little tense. The Pens hit the post twice before the period was very old. The Sens also took four penalties in the period compared to the Pens’ zero, including 45 seconds of 5-on-3 kill, but the Sens’ PK was strong. The lone goal of the first period though went to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who snapped it home short-side on a nifty no-look behind-the-net pass from Bobby Ryan. The Sens managed to survive four PKs and take the lead, making it overall a great road period.
The second period I expected to see some makeup calls. Ottawa actually drew a penalty while shorthanded early in the period, negating the remnant of Pittsburgh’s powerplay. However, that would do it for the makeup calls, with Mark Stone getting the only other penalty of the period. It wouldn’t matter though, because both goalies were strong. Craig Anderson in particular made some impressive stops. When Andy Ice is in the zone, he is near unbeatable. Alexandre Burrows actually put the puck in the net, but the whistle had blown, and besides Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove was on the puck before Burrows forced the puck out into the net, so the goal wouldn’t count.
The third period was great for Ottawa. Despite having the lead for most of the period, they actually dominated the shot clock 14-7. That’s #TheSystem at play my friends. Ottawa drew an early powerplay, but almost managed to wreck things by giving up a great shorthanded chance (as per usual). Ottawa played some decent shutdown hockey, but it wasn’t quite enough. Bobby Ryan took a hard cross-check to the head from behind and stayed down a little while, but he managed to shake it off and come back to play in the game.
Just when you thought the team might squeak out the 1-0 win, Evgeni Malkin got a fluky tip through Anderson’s five-hole and into the net with five-and-a-half minutes remaining. Ottawa would then pour on the pressure, but Pittsburgh came closest with Chris Kunitz hitting the crossbar. In the end, the team went to OT, meaning Sens fans would once again have to watch some high-stress, winners-take-all hockey.
Overtime was mostly Ottawa’s period. Pittsburgh got a few seconds in the Sens’ zone, but to me it didn’t look like much pressure. And off a Pageau faceoff win, Erik Karlsson fired the puck up the zone, Ryan chipped it around the high defenceman and raced in on a pseudo-breakaway. He made a quick move and beat Fleury on a backhand to the high far corner, a great move from a suddenly great goal-scorer. Sens win, 2-1. Sens lead the series 1-0.
- Craig Anderson: he was focused tonight, tracking every deflection, every bounce, every shot. Without him in goal, this could’ve been a very different game.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau: he finished with two points, five shots, and one monstrous hit. He just seemed full of energy tonight, and it was nice to see him rewarded with some big points.
- Bobby Ryan: that goal was the thing dreams are made of. What hustle, what a finishing move. That assist on the first goal was also beautiful.
- Evgeni Malkin: by far Pittsburgh’s best player tonight. He was clearly on a mission. The Sens better find a way to cool him down for Game 2.
Tonight the Sens served notice that they are in this series to play. They actually deserve to be playing among the best in the Eastern Conference. Bring on the rest of the series.