In a perfect world a Penguins fan would draw up a game where not only the good guys resoundingly thump the opponents, but also out-shoot them (35 to 26), out-hit them (35 to 29) and have more take-aways (8 to 2). Ottawa won the face-off battle, but that's probably the only small victory they could find.
- If you ever wondered why this blog talks about Gary Roberts so much, now you know. Just a minute in, G-Rob knocked Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden down, went to the front of the net and was fed a puck from all people but Georges Laraque.....And if you know NHL playoff hockey, perhaps no player has personally tormented a team in recent history as much as Roberts has the Senators. A goal 68 seconds in the for the veteran leader set the tone for the game....And perhaps the series.
- The next score came almost 11 minutes later, but still was as big. Evgeni Malkin proved he has a lot more in the tank than he did at this time last year; chipping the puck by a defenseman and leading a 2 on 1 rush with Petr Sykora. Malkin was looking pass all the way but Martin Gerber had to respect the shot and got burned on the one-timer (see picture above).
- Gerber did settle down and stopped 15 shots in the 2nd period, including a couple of glorious chances by Marian Hossa and Sidney Crosby.
- The Penguins pressed on in the third, highlighted by a beauty of a goal that Malkin kicked from his skate to his stick before depositing behind a helpess Gerber. One more Mr. Gary goal later and that's it.
- Marc-Andre Fleury didn't have to be amazing but he was very solid in his positioning and rebound control. While the Sens didn't create any dynamite or sustained chances Fleury did have to make a few key stops and obviously he was up for the task every time. Quietly MAF has been probably the best goalie in the NHL since the beginning of March, and the Pens probably like that. Talk about the offense and guys like Crosby, Malkin and Hossa all you want; the defense and netminder are just plugging along, doing what they have to do.
- At the end of the game the Sens showed a little moxy, no doubt sending a message for games to come. They tried getting in Crosby's face and surpisingly Ryan Whitney of all people got in a fight and absolutely abused Redden. Ouch. If you said one Penguin would win a fight Ryan Whitney's name would have come up just before backup goalie Ty Conklin..But only by a little. When players like Whitney are showing passion and leaving a physical imprint not only do the observers know the team is focused and in the game but the opponents do as well.
- Roberts also had a little extra for Ottawa when a guy punched him in the head when G-Rob was tied up with another Sen. The message Ottawa was trying to send was backfired, these Pens aren't backing down (see Maxime Talbot taking down Martin Lapointe Fleury or Rob Scuderi getting scrappy). We'd imagine that even though they won't admit it right now, to a man the Senators know there's no chance of bullying this team down. They're not green and they're not in awe of the post-season. And the Sens know they are in BIG trouble.
- It's good to see Ottawa's best defenseman (and the NHL's best shot blocker) Anton Volchenkov will apparantely be ok after he dropped to the ice from getting hit with a Malkin slapper to the head. Volchenkov was cut but somehow didn't appear to have suffered major injury when he went down trying to block the shot. He was cut pretty good and did not return to the game. Early indication is that he will be available for Game 2. We're just happy that the guy is OK.
"Game 1 last year," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We're different, much more improved, and I think we proved that tonight."
Yes you did, Sid....Now go and avoid a letdown in Game 2.
1 down, 15 more to go.....