Costly plays don't rattle Senators' rookies
OTTAWA — They were celebrated in Game 1 as the rookies who scored goals in their first playoff games, a pair of unlikely heroes in Ottawa's upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins at Mellon Arena.
This time, Ottawa forward Peter Regin and defenseman Erik Karlsson were involved in a pair of pivotal plays of a 4-2 loss to the Penguins Sunday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Scotiabank Place.
Regin had a goal disallowed in the final minute of the first period, and Karlsson was called for a slashing penalty during a power play that led to the Penguins taking a two-goal edge late in the second.
Just don't tell them that it's a matter of experiencing the highs and lows of playoff hockey for the first time in their careers.
Neither player is willing to buy that.
"I don't think you could say that," Regin said. "I think we both played well. I think we had some bad bounces. The stick broke on Erik, and I tried to score a goal. So I don't think you can say that it was a low."
Instead of scoring a goal for a third consecutive game, Regin had a potential game-tying tally disallowed with the Penguins leading, 2-1, and 40.8 seconds remaining in the first period. A video review determined that the puck bounced off his skate and never touched his stick before dribbling between goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's legs.
"I thought it was a goal," Regin said. "But it was still early in the game, and we knew we could have bounced back."
The Senators had their chance when winger Matt Cooke was called for boarding Regin behind the Penguins' net at 17:04 of the second period.
Trailing, 2-1, a power-play goal would have tied the score. Instead, the opportunity ended only 27 seconds later, when the 19-year-old Karlsson drew a slashing penalty for breaking Jordan Staal's stick along the boards.
"It's unfortunate that his stick breaks there - a little unnecessary, too - but it's the way the game is," said Karlsson, who became the first defenseman under the age of 20 to score a postseason goal since Wade Redden in 1997 with a power-play tally in the second period of Game 1. "Every time a stick breaks, it's unfortunate that it's a penalty. Sometimes, it doesn't have to be hard for the stick to break."
That mistake was compounded when Cooke's exit from the penalty box was perfectly timed amid a neutral-zone rush. He picked up the puck as he skated along the blue line and passed it around the boards to Sidney Crosby.
Crosby dragged defenseman Andy Sutton across ice to the left circle before flicking a wrist shot past goalie Brian Elliott for a 3-1 lead with 44.4 seconds left in the period.
"When I came out, I was supposed to come to the bench, but the puck came back to me, and I chased it," Cooke said. "I just tried to get the puck to Sid, and I did, and he did what he does best."
That it came at the expense of Regin and Karlsson made no difference to Ottawa's prized rookies, who weren't rattled by their unfortunate roles in the defeat.
"We just try to play the game like anybody else," Karlsson said. "For some guys, it's their first year, and for other guys it's their 10th year. It doesn't matter."