Live at Game 1: Senators 2, Penguins 1 final
Bobby Ryan's hustle generated two goals for Ottawa in a 2-1 overtime win over the Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.
His forechecking led to an assist in the first period.
His speed after collecting a loose puck ended the game, as he raced past Olli Maatta for a breakaway and beat Marc-Andre Fleury five minutes into the extra period
Great goal by Bobby Ryan wins it for the Sens in OT pic.twitter.com/RyZq2qsSre— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 14, 2017
The Penguins anticipated Ottawa's opportunistic approach to offense when they entered Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena. Their readiness for the Senators' shot suppression never became apparent.
Even after two periods, the Senators refused to go into a shot-blocking shell that provided the Penguins with hope of a late pushback. Instead they tilted the ice and controlled territory with more efficiency than in the previous two periods — their ability to stay out of the penalty box after going short-handed five times through 40 minutes helped on that front.
Shots were 14-7 Ottawa in the 3rd. It's not like the Sens sat back hoping 1-0 was good enough.— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) May 14, 2017
But Ron Hainsey broke through almost with less than six minutes left in regulation with an unconventional response to Ottawa's atypical 1-3-1 forecheck: He chipped the puck into the offensive zone from several feet behind the offensive blueline and then continued his momentum to chase down the loose puck and feed Chris Kunitz, who delivered a puck to the net front, where Evgeni Malkin's deflection ended Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson's shutout bid.
Remember when they told you Malkinlooked disengaged? pic.twitter.com/QEYkf4R3Ja— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) May 14, 2017
Puck luck might come back around for the Penguins in Game 1, but through 40 minutes, the hosts at PPG Paints Arena found themselves cursing the gods of good bounces.
A few shots off the net's iron were as close as the Penguins came to ending Craig Anderson's shutout bid.
Ottawa trailed, 19-18, in shots on goal through two periods but held a 14-6 edge in shots that happened during five-on-five action.
Pens averaged a league-high 32.8 shots on goal per 60 minutes of 5v5 play in the regular season. Thru 27.9 minsof 5v5 vsSens, they have 6.— Bill West (@BWest_Trib) May 14, 2017
The Penguins trailed Ottawa despite five power play opportunities. Their early efforts to dictate the terms in the series opener proved discouraging, as Ottawa used defensive structure and timely stick checks to limit the open space on the ice, particularly in the prized scoring chance area.
It took a little more than 14 minutes into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final for the Penguins to taste the frustration they gave Washington and Columbus in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Ottawa barely possessed the puck in the opening period, but it capitalized on a rare scoring chance when Bobby Ryan snatched a puck behind the Penguins' net and threw it out front for J.G. Pageau, who buried the Senators' fifth shot attempt of the night 14:32 into the series opener. Before Pageau's shot, the Penguins held a 12-4 edge in shot attempts.
Pageaugets in on the forecheck, gets out front, then finishes for the series' first goal. pic.twitter.com/bVn2wEmq3f— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) May 13, 2017
The Penguins reached the conference final largely on the strength of its goaltending and counterattack. But they quickly determined Ottawa, with its passive 1-3-1 forecheck, is the team that will rely on counterstrikes in this series. The Senators trailed, 17-8, in shot attempts and 8-6 in shots on goal at the first intermission — four penalties in the opening period certainly hampered their ability to generate offense.
Penguins carried play in the first primarily due to PP opps. 5v5 play put OTT in a better light. Also, check out Sens' nice shot locations. pic.twitter.com/FKaOAVkANh— Bill West (@BWest_Trib) May 14, 2017
NBC turned away from golf coverage just in time to capture the opening puck drop of Game 1, but fans continued to witness chip shots and crafty hand-eye skills in the opening minutes between the Penguins and Ottawa at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' efforts to crack the Senators' 1-3-1 forecheck began modestly and included an early defensive-zone giveaway that created a promising scoring chance for Ottawa's Mike Hoffman.
At the other end of the ice, Jake Guentzel gave the crowd an early thrill when he deflected a Ron Hainsey shot from the point enough to get the puck past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and right at the crossbar.
Ottawa killed off a five-on-three disadvantage in the game's first 10 minutes, but not before the Penguins tallied three shots on goal and six attempts.
In a rare piece of lineup continuity this deep into the playoffs, it looks like the Penguins will start the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night with the same personnel they used to finish off the Washington Capitals in seven games in the previous round.
Before Game 7 against Washington, coach Mike Sullivan inserted Scott Wilson and Carter Rowney on the fourth line, taking the place of Tom Kuhnhackl, who is healthy, and Carl Hagelin, who is recovering from a lower-body injury.
Based on the order players left the ice at the end of an optional morning skate Saturday, Wilson and Rowney are expected to be in the lineup again. Hagelin did not participate in pregame warm-ups.
Trevor Daley, who missed the last two games of the Washington series with a lower-body injury, has not resumed practicing with the team. Sullivan said he is day to day.
After morning skate, Sullivan said lineup continuity isn't necessarily something he is striving for.
The Game Seven lineup has carried over for Game One. Hoping for a similar result. Let's Go Pens! pic.twitter.com/pbnaHYtmei— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 13, 2017
"We've got some moving parts," Sullivan said. "We believe we have a lot of depth within our team, and we can utilize guys in different ways to help our team win. So all of these guys that have been in our lineup here throughout the course of the playoffs have played significant minutes for us during the regular season. They've all been a big part of this team's ability to get to this point.
"So we believe, as a coaching staff, that we'll lean on all of these guys to continue to help us win. We can only dress … 18 skaters and 2 goalies, but certainly, our team is bigger than that. These guys, whether they're in the lineup or they're not in the lineup, they're every bit as important to helping this team win."
Sidney Crosby: 14 goals in 20 playoff games vs Senators, his most goals vs one opponent in the postseason. Senators-Penguins, 7 ET pic.twitter.com/4li4GkEnlB— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 13, 2017
While the lineup will likely be the same, Sullivan said he expects his players to quickly shift their focus from the Capitals to the Senators.
"We just have to be ready to refocus our energy and reinvest ourselves into this series," Sullivan said. "We can't dwell on the past. We've got to turn the page and look to today's game and just stay in the moment. I think that's the most important thing.
"It always starts with an attitude and a mindset. We can't ease into this. We've got to make sure that we're ready to play from the drop of the puck. So it's really, for me, it's about an investment, emotionally and otherwise, into this new challenge, and I think our guys are excited to play."
Sens' power play functioning at just 14.6% in the playoffs. But they were a dominant 6-for-12 vs. Pens in 3 regular season GP this season.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) May 13, 2017
On the Ottawa side, injuries might force two changes to the lineup that finished off the Rangers in six games in the second round.
Winger Viktor Stalberg and veteran tough guy Chris Neil did not practice Friday and the Senators had only a small, informal morning skate Saturday. If they're out, wingers Ryan Dzingel and Tommy Wingels are in line to replace them.
On defense, hard-hitting Mark Borowiecki has been out a month with a lower-body injury. He could be back at some point during the series against the Penguins. In his absence, Fredrik Claesson and Ben Harpur have been Ottawa's third defense pair.
Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson has been practicing in a limited capacity and revealed at the end of a first-round series against Boston that he had been playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel. He is expected to continue to play through the injury.
Playoff chances going into Saturday's game. pic.twitter.com/WafLQFaVAS— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) May 13, 2017
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.