First-period flurry lifts Penguins past Sens
The Penguins started poorly again, allowing an Ottawa goal only 1:19 into regulation Friday at Consol Energy Center.
Then, Sidney Crosby got started.
Crosby set up a goal on his first shift and had three assists before the game was 10 minutes old while leading the Penguins to a convincing 6-3 victory over the Senators.
The Penguins (13-6-4, 30 points) have the NHL's most points and will look to increase that total tonight in Montreal.
"There was talk on our bench right away about a response," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after right wing Erik Condra gave the Senators an immediate lead.
There's also plenty of talk around the league regarding Crosby's sensational first week. After an indifferent performance against the St. Louis Blues, Crosby roared back to help the Penguins even the contest. He finished with three assists and now has seven points in three games.
Only 27 seconds after Ottawa struck first, Crosby faked a shot and then connected with left winger Chris Kunitz, who scored on a redirection for his eighth goal.
The rest of the night saw the Penguins dominate.
"It was a great play by Sid," Kunitz said. "We had a middle drive going with Engo (defenseman Deryk Engelland.) I just looked for a lane, and he made a great pass."
Crosby deflected the compliment.
"Everyone responded well," Crosby said, "and that carried over to the next two periods."
While Crosby's point total is easy to focus on, the game's most dominant player was probably his fellow superstar, center Evgeni Malkin.
Scoring two points in a third consecutive game, Malkin skated circles around the Senators.
"He was so good," Kunitz said. "Geno had that puck sense going tonight where the puck just seemed to be following him at all times."
The Penguins are delighted to see all three of their star centers dominating - Jordan Staal later added his 11th goal - because they are about to embark on one of their most difficult stretches of the season. Six of their next seven games are on the road, and the only home game in that stretch sees the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins come to town.
Perhaps because of the upcoming schedule — and the fact that the game was comfortably in hand when right wing Pascal Dupuis made it 5-1 early in the second period — Bylsma began to experiment.
Crosby skated much of the game with Neal, Staal played with Malkin, and Dupuis saw significant time at center.
"I thought it was a good time to get him (Dupuis) to play on a shutdown type line," Bylsma said.
Six different Penguins accounted for the six goals, including left wing Steve Sullivan, who now has a goal in three straight games.
Coming off a game that saw the Penguins commit numerous mental errors, Crosby was pleased to see his team show more focus against the Senators.
"Tonight we did a better job of getting the puck in deep and going to work," Crosby said.
Having Crosby and Malkin on your side, of course, doesn't hurt.
"They were good," Dupuis said. "It's a good thing."
Senators, 1-0 (1:19): LW Kaspars Daugavins broke free from D Kris Letang in front of the Penguins net and beat G Marc-Andre Fleury.
Penguins, 1-1 (1:46): C Sidney Crosby received a pass from D Deryk Engelland, skated into the right wing circle, faked a shot and then delivered a perfect pass into the slot to LW Chris Kunitz, who scored on a redirection.
Penguins, 2-1 (3:25): RW Tyler Kennedy gathered his own rebound and fired a shot from behind the net that struck G Craig Anderson's legs and bounced into the net.
Penguins, 3-1 (7:21): LW Steve Sullivan fired a power play shot from the left wing boards that hit off Ottawa D Chris Phillips and past Anderson.
Penguins, 4-1 (9:11): C Evgeni Malkin took control of the puck after D Kris Letang broke his stick on a shot, skated untouched through the Ottawa slot and fired a wrist shot past Anderson. Crosby picked up his third assist on the play.
Penguins, 5-1 (3:45): RW Arron Asham's shot deflected toward RW Pascal Dupuis, who found himself alone in front of Ottawa G Alex Auld and scored his fifth goal of the season.
Senators, 5-2 (15:46): RW Daniel Alfredsson found D Jared Cowen at the center point, and he fired a slap shot past Fleury during a delayed penalty sequence.
Penguins, 6-2 (8:41): C Jordan Staal stepped away from the right wing boards into the circle and whipped a wrist shot past Auld's stick side.
Senators, 6-3: (16:29): RW Erik Condra split Engelland and D Matt Niskanen before firing a high shot over Fleury.
Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators November 25, 2011
The Penguins defeat Ottawa, 6-3, at Consol Energy Center.