The Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins were in completely opposite positions entering this game. The Sens had won two straight at the tail end of February where they otherwise went 3-7-3, and the Penguins were looking to break a six-game losing streak despite still being one of the top teams in the Metro division.
But on paper, the story was totally different. Sidney Crosby vs. Chris Tierney? Evgeni Malkin vs. Colin White? Kris Letang vs. Ron Hainsey? The lopsided expectation was turned into reality as the Penguins crushed the Sens by a score of 7-3.
If you turned the TV off after the first two minutes, I don’t blame you. John Marino, who had just returned from injury, scored 48 seconds in. And just 51 seconds after the next centre ice faceoff, Conor Sheary made it 2-0.
The Sens’ power play minutes later managed to generate zero shot attempts — if you managed to make it past this part, let alone the rest of the game, you already deserve an award.
Thankfully for our sanity, Jayce Hawryluk scored his first as a Senator later in the frame, as the Penguins’ fanbase collectively went, “Huh, he plays for them now?” Yes he does, and I’m just as confused. Mike Reilly earned the assist with a point shot that went off the post before Hawryluk tucked it in.
Bryan Rust answered right back to restore Pittsburgh’s two goal lead — the Sens’ momentum was completely caved. It was only the end of the first, and Craig Anderson had allowed three goals on ten shots. But with Anders Nilsson injured and Marcus Högberg out for personal reasons, he stayed in for the rest of the game in lieu of rolling the dice with Filip Gustavsson.
The second period had a few more bright spots for Ottawa, who solidly managed to kill off a double-minor taken by Chris Tierney for high-sticking. Their power play chance midway through the period also had significantly more movement than their first opportunity.
But as it goes in the NHL, Sidney Crosby had to ruin it, scoring the Penguins’ fourth goal of the game. That wasn’t even rock bottom, as the third period opened with Jason Zucker scoring 36 seconds in to make it 5-1. Even after all of this, D.J. Smith refused to pull Anderson.
In an unexpected shift of pace, however, the Sens ended up going halfway to staging a comeback, with Brady Tkachuk and Connor Brown consecutively finding the back of the net to narrow the lead to two. But the fighting Penguins were having none of it, putting their feet back on the gas pedal to score twice more before the Sens even had the thought of bringing out the extra attacker.
It’s the third time this season the Sens have allowed 7+ goals, with the final score being 7-3 for the Penguins.
- Artem Anisimov was involved in an odd collision with Bobby Ryan and Evgeni Malkin in the first period and didn’t return. It could’ve just been for concussion protocol since there was accidental contact to his head, but hopefully it’s nothing serious.
- Colin White had two assists for his second multi-point game of the season.
- I’ve probably mentioned him enough, but Anderson definitely takes some blame for allowing as many goals in as he did. The defence was far from stellar as usual, but he didn’t give the team a chance.
- The Penguins’ stars stepped up, especially Crosby who had a goal and two assists, and Malkin, who despite not registering a single shot on goal picked up four assists.
- I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a tank update. The good news is that the Islanders lost, but the Sharks also won their game — at least it was against the Leafs. Fellow bottom-feeders Buffalo, Anaheim and New Jersey also lost their games.
The Sens are back home on Thursday to face the Islanders, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau making his return to the CTC.