Their most formidable offensive weapon is a ... defenceman.
The Ottawa Senators have wasted no time grabbing home-ice advantage away from the defending champs in the NHL's Eastern Conference finals.
And "not great" on Monday, either, as the Senators fell 1-0. Pittsburgh didn't have to defend the entire night and rely exclusively upon a counterattack offense; the Penguins had quite a bit of offensive zone time, especially in the first period when the Senators committed four penalties.
As luck would have it, the puck bounced off Jean-Gabriel Pageau and back to the Penguins right winger in the slot amid a scoreless tie Monday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. Behind a strong third period, Ottawa outshot Pittsburgh 35-28 in Game 1. "When you have that confidence behind you, it's a lot easier to play".
Instead, the winning goal came off what appeared to be another routine block by the solid Ottawa defence.
Given a second chance, Kessel fired low and right, and the shot sailed past goalie Craig Anderson at 13:05 of the third period, the lone goal in the Penguins' 1-0 victory over the Seantors.
"They stepped it up a notch", said Boucher.
I thought five-on-five, we played well, said Boucher. Whether it's shooting pucks or getting guys in that area to get rebounds, create traffic and screens and things like that.but I think they're pretty committed to protecting their net and being there. No one needs it spelled out. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has proven to be one of the best at making in-series adjustments. "We believe in the way we play, and I'm sure they believe in the way they play. Sometimes a conversation can get a little heated". But Anderson, who has been superb in the playoffs, easily turned the scoring attempt away. (Trevor Daley has yet to return to the lineup, and players like Sidney Crosby, Conor Sheary and Brian Dumoulin are most likely playing at less than 100 percent.) Another difficulty of this quick turnaround is more mental than physical; the team has to adjust to a fundamentally different style of play.
Dion Phaneuf, who was a force in this game, nailed Jake Guentzel by stepping into 0 him and sending him flying to the ice as he came across the Ottawa blue line. Both Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz left in the first period. Alex Burrows was there to put the puck in the net but the NHL's situation room ruled the whistle had been blown.
Every member of the Penguins that was asked about it completely downplayed it as one of those things that happens during the course of an intense, emotional game. They played a near-perfect road game on Saturday against a powerhouse and they dictated the pace of play.
Fleury and his team can now add another plus to those figures. Pageau's eight goals are the second-most by a Senators player during a single postseason. It is something for an offensive guy to understand, that there are certain areas on the ice that we can get the puck to him and other areas that you have to nearly give up on a puck and put it deep. He has a.917 save percentage so far in 13 games, but he's most definitely a reason behind why the Senators are 6-1 in overtimes this postseason.
Although playoff points leader Evgeni Malkin scored, fellow centre and Rocket Richard Trophy victor Sidney Crosby was held to two shots - and no other shot attempts - and post-season goals leader Jake Guetzel, one of Crosby's linemates, had one shot.