FIRST PERIOD: SENATORS 1, PENGUINS 0
Not a great opening 12 minutes by the Penguins, but they are down by just a goal — though a late minor penalty (charging) assessed to LW MATT COOKE will give the Senators a power play of 1:26 to open the second period.
Some first-period observations…
BIG BOP BY SUTTON (AGAIN)
Senators D ANDY SUTTON caught Penguins C EVGENI MALKIN clean in Ottawa’s defensive end zone at around 18:40 of the first period. Malkin, who rarely is caught clean by any opposing player, was not skating with his head up while trying to negotiate possession of the puck. It could be suggested that Malkin’s teammates mirrored his lack of heady play given their troubled start. Speaking of which…
ALFIE IS ALL IN
Senators captain and RW DANIEL ALFREDSSON had recorded a fairly quiet six points before Game 6, but his premier talent was on display to help Ottawa to its first goal.
After D ANTON VOLCHENKOV wrapped a puck around the boards from behind the cage in his own zone, Alfredsson gained possession and fired a sharp, spot-on pass to C MATT CULLEN, who blew past Penguins D KRIS LETANG and bested G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY for a breakaway goal at 5:19.
Fleury didn’t look great on that goal, but by 8:45 of the opening period had made several saves after Cullen’s third of the series to keep the Penguins within a marker.
Though 12 minutes the Penguins had been out-shot, 10-3 – a second straight uninspiring start to a potential clinching game.
Remember, HC DAN BYLSMA was forced to call a rare first-period timeout after Ottawa jumped a 2-0 lead in Game 5 at Mellon Arena on Thursday night.
A SIGN OF LIFE
At the 7:20 mark the Penguins’ best chance was provided by the fourth line: C MIKE RUPP, RW CRAIG ADAMS, RW CHRIS CONNER.
Nothing spectacular, just simple gritty hockey in the offensive zone – wins of puck battles and putting the puck to the net. Rupp forced a stop from Senators G PASCAL LECLAIRE, though a no-goal call made by on-ice officials was upheld by video replay officials at the league offices in Toronto.
That marked the fourth play to be reviewed in Toronto in the last two games. Two of those calls have gone in favor of the Penguins, and in each situation the Toronto gang appeared get the final call correct.
PENS GAIN STEAM … UNTIL PP
The near-goal by Rupp appeared to spark the Penguins, who charged hard over the next four minutes.
Cooke hit RW PASCAL DUPUIS with a nice feed, and Dupuis entered the offensive zone with speed and time to place a clean backhand-shot on Leclaire, who made the save.
However, the Penguins continued to dictate and few a defensive-zone foul from Senators LW JARKKO RUUTU at the 3:30 mark. Ruutu was issued a minor penalty for holding.
Of course, the Penguins put forth a fairly pitiful power play – netting two shots to pull even at 10 in that category, but not possessing the puck over the final minute-plus on the advantage.
— BY ROB ROSSI, from Ottawa