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Pens need big comeback to avoid a Game 7


SECOND PERIOD: Senators 3, Penguins 1

Quite a wild sequence at the 3:41 mark, as Senators C MIKE FISHER was credited by an on-ice official with a goal — even though the puck he shot past Penguins G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY looked to cross the goal line as the net was dislodged.

The net was dislodged because Senators C MATT CULLEN had been planted in the crease by Penguins D BROOKS ORPIK. Cullen had busted into the zone with speed, working around D SERGEI GONCHAR before attempting a shot that never found the net.

Fleury challenged Cullen’s attempted shot, but was sliding backward as he attempted to stop the rebound attempt from Fisher. Fleury, Cullen and Orpik all became entangled in the crease — and Orpik’s backward-progress unintentionally dislodged the cage.

An on-ice official signaled the goal would count and the Senators held a 4-1 lead. However, for the fifth time in two games replay officials at the league offices in Toronto were called upon to review a call. After a lengthy period of time — between 7 and 10 minutes — the goal was disallowed because the puck had indeed crossed the goal line after the net was dislodged.

Gonchar was assessed a minor penalty for hooking, and the Penguins killed off that power play.

Some observations from the second period…


The charging minor assessed to LW MATT COOKE with 34 seconds remaining in the first period hurt the Penguins, even though the Senators’ power play that carried over into the second period had expired when RW CHRIS NEIL scored at 1:51 to stake Ottawa a 2-0 lead.

The Penguins had not worked the puck up the ice after killing the penalty, and the Senators’ third line of Neil, C CHRIS KELLY and LW JARKKO RUUTU swarmed in the offensive zone to set up Neil’s goal. Fleury had no chance to prevent the marker.


By the 15:15 mark of the second period Fleury had already prevented the Senators from taking firm command of Game 6. The Senators are working over the Penguins’ defense corps deep, especially in the crease area.

On the flip side, the Senators’ collapsing-defense scheme has limited the Penguins’ second-chance opportunities.


A goal by Senators RW DANIEL ALFREDSSON at 9:48 pushed his club to a 3-0 lead — exactly the advantage held by the Philadelphia Flyers at home last spring in Game 6 of a first-round series the Penguins rallied to win with five straight goals.

A goal by Cooke only 1:12 after Alfredsson scored brought the Penguins within a 3-1 score.

Fleury appeared visibly frustrated after Alfredsson’s goal, but HC DAN BYLSMA opted not to pull him.

At the 7:37 mark the Penguins appeared to be tilting momentum a bit following a strong shift in the offensive zone highlighted by C EVGENI MALKIN and C MAX TALBOT.


— The Senators have held two-goal leads in Games 1, 5 and 6. They hadn’t lost a game under those circumstances.

— Ottawa had blocked 14 of 35 shots attempted by the Penguins.

— The Penguins are 2-4 all-time in Game 7s at home. Losses include: 1975 Stanley Cup quarterfinal (Islanders); 1989 Patrick Division final (Flyers); 1993 Patrick Division final (Islanders); 1996 Eastern Conference final (Panthers).

— BY ROB ROSSI, from Ottawa




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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