National Hockey League roundup: Senators get jump on Penguins

The Ottawa Senators might still be considered underdogs in their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but their Game 1 victory Saturday night has put them in the driver's seat.

"A lot of people were doubting us and nearly made us start doubting ourselves", defenseman Cody Ceci said.

Ryan broke in alone on Marc-Andre Fleury and deked the Pittsburgh goalie before flipping a backhand into the open net 4:59 into overtime to give Ottawa a 2-1 victory Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. For Ottawa, LW Viktor Stallberg (lower body) remained out for the second game in a while, while RW Chris Neil was scratched after playing two games in a row. That's the Stanley Cup champions.

The Ottawa Senators dominated Boston then rallied by the New York Rangers on the legs of seemingly tireless defenseman Erik Karlsson, the inspirational play of goaltender Craig Anderson and a neutral zone trap created to frustrate and suffocate opponents in equal measure.

Anderson then got to spend Mother's Day with wife Nicholle and their two children after doctors cleared Nicholle to travel while awaiting the next step in her battle against throat cancer.

"We were pleased with the way we dictated the terms out there", Sullivan said. "A lot of people were doubting us and nearly made us start doubting ourselves, just because they were Stanley Cup champions a year ago and they have a lot of high-end skill". We knew it was coming. "He's been our MVP".

But Ottawa stood firm through more than two periods and killed off all five Pittsburgh power-plays during regulation.

It was an impressive showing, especially considering the players the Penguins were missing due to injuries.

"We didn't do any extraordinary things", Boucher said.

We knowing scoring first is going to be big this series, and we also know how the Pens could really help themselves in this area...

As is Ottawa's custom, once they gain even a one-goal lead, they try to wrap the game in duct tape - sealing off the neutral zone, chipping pucks out and away, dumping in and barely bothering to chase. It's not entirely unfamiliar territory.

The Sens have an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Final series against the Penguins tonight at 8 p.m.in Pittsburgh.

"You don't want to play with any sort of injury, obviously", Ovechkin said.

And maybe a slight adjustment of mindset.

"To be honest with you, we didn't talk about Crosby once", Senators coach Guy Boucher said. It's a message he repeated before, during and after Game 1. Schultz, who has become Pittsburgh's most important blue liner with Kris Letang and Trevor Daley out, slid awkwardly into the end boards after getting bumped off the puck by Senators forward Mike Hoffman about midway through the first. "Simple as that", Anderson said.

The Senators anticipate Pittsburgh tweaking its approach.

"Ottawa" in the current playoffs managed to win 5 out of 6 overtimes. We also know another sure-fire way to take the trap out of the equation all together...

Ottawa is 4-2 SU in its past six games on the road.

"It felt great obviously", said a thrilled Ryan.

  • Julie Sanders