The Ottawa Senators looked to play the ideal team game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, knowing that the Pens would have the advantage in individual skill. Playing tight on the body and defending the blue line guarding their zone, the Senators were able to jump on the Penguins early, taking the game out of Pittsburgh’s hands.
Coming into the game, the Senators knew that they needed to focus on neutralizing the Pittsburgh Penguins’ forwards. The Sens did a good job keeping the space between them and the opposing puck carriers tight, and played the body effectively. The Penguins had trouble entering with possession the Senators’ zone, sapping them of momentum early in the game.
The Senators’ power play would do exactly what it needed to do trapping the Penguins in their own zone. Bobby Ryan scored a quick one-time wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle to give Ottawa the lead.
The Penguins would get a power play of their own, but the Senators would be the team to get the better chances. Continuing their tight-checking game, the Senators’ penalty kill got the chances early. They would initiate several rushes, forcing Matt Murray to make several solid saves.
The Senators would make the Penguins pay for another penalty. Off the faceoff win, Erik Karlsson sent the shot on net and Mike Hoffman was able to catch the puck with the redirect to put it past Murray.
A combination of Penguins fatigue and a strong Senators checking game would give Ottawa the better opportunities in the period, evident in the shots on goal being 15-8 for the Senators in that frame.
Carrying their momentum from the first, the Senators would be the first to jump on the offence in the second period, giving the Penguins little time to breathe.
The Senators would once again get a glorious opportunity on the penalty kill. Zack Smith found himself in front of the goaltender with speed. He made a move to the backhand, but his shot rang off the post.
Ryan would show that he had a step in his game after scoring his goal, as he got a good chance in tight. Murray was strong against the post, keeping the puck out.
The Penguins would force a turnover to try and get themselves on the boards. Mismanagement of the puck by the Senators provided the puck to Nick Bonino at his feet. Mike Condon, sprawled on his front, kept his right leg strong to keep the puck out.
Tom Pyatt would add to the scoresheet for the Senators as he too deflected a Karlsson shot after an Ottawa faceoff win to put it past Murray, giving the Sens a 3-0 lead.
Scott Wilson would get so close to putting the Penguins on the board. He found himself on the quick break, made a swift deke in front of Condon, but hit the crossbar.
The Penguins would end the period on a good note, as Conor Sheary would redirect Evgeni Malkin’s shot to slide it past Condon. Pittsburgh would have a slight advantage in chances compared to the Senators. Thanks to a few big saves by Condon, the Senators would enter the intermission with a comfortable two-goal lead.
The Penguins would show their push quickly in the third, and Condon made a windmill save on Sidney Crosby before covering up the rebound to stop play.
The third period would be more run-and-gun than the first two, as the teams traded chances more openly. The Senators would restore their three-goal lead as Derick Brassard passed the puck right onto Mark Stone’s blade. The puck went off Stone’s blade as he got inside position and tipped it past Murray.
The Penguins would continue to be the team to pay with more sustained pressure despite falling further behind. The Senators would remain patient, forcing a turnover when finding an opening in Pittsburgh’s game. They would do this well enough to cause the Penguins to take obstruction infractions and get off their game.
Something happened on the Pittsburgh bench that made referee Wes McCauley kick head coach Mike Sullivan out of the game with two minutes left in the game. It would add insult to a night to forget for the Penguins, as the Senators took care of things on their end to finish the game with a 4-1 win.
OTT – Bobby Ryan (8) PPG assisted by Chris Wideman (8) & Derick Brassard (11)
OTT – Mike Hoffman (12) PPG assisted by Erik Karlsson (26) & Kyle Turris (14)
OTT – Tom Pyatt (6) assisted by Erik Karlsson (27) & Jean-Gabriel Pageau (10)
PIT – Conor Sheary (11) assisted by Evgeni Malkin (28) & Ian Cole (13)
OTT – Mark Stone (13) assisted by Derick Brassard (12) & Zack Smith (9)
THW Three Stars
First: Mike Condon (29 saves)
Second: Mark Stone (1 goal, 2 takeaways)
Third: Mike Hoffman (1 goal, 2 shots)
Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Canadian Tire Centre, 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 14
Broadcast Channels: CBC & City
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Detroit Red Wings
Joe Louis Arena, 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 14
Broadcast Channels: NHLN-US, FS-D, ROOT