Early goal saps Senators' momentum

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:09 AM ET

At the 6:35 p.m. puck drop and in the minutes preceding it, Scotiabank Place was louder than it’s been in at least two years as the “All In, All Red” fanatics waved their All White towels and sent shivers of adrenaline through the bloodstreams of all Senators players while, at the same time, putting to shame any ruckus Penguins supporters mustered in the lead-up to Games 1 and 2.

And at 6:40 p.m., it was silent.

Senators goalie Brian Elliott had to make that save off Alexei Ponikarovsky from the right-wing faceoff dot 77 seconds into Game 3 of Ottawa’s opening round playoff series with Pittsburgh. That he let the puck slip by him took the crowd’s wind the wind out of the Senators sails, and left his team in a hole.

“Some you want back,” Elliott said after the 4-2 loss. “But I think we did a good job not getting down on that and moving forward with the rest of the game.”

Elliott allowed the fourth Pittsburgh goal on the 17th shot he faced, and while only the first was a weak one, it was one weak one too many.

It’s impossible to survive a battle with the Penguins when you also throw a freebie or two their way.

Going into this series, the Senators needed Elliott to be at his sharpest if they had hope of advancing. He wasn’t in Game 3, which is why they’re down and — after stealing the opener, suddenly in big trouble.

Starts and stops: Senators RW Daniel Alfredsson spent about five minutes of the second period in the dressing room after taking a hard check from Sidney Crosby while he searched for the puck in his feet. Alfredsson appeared to be favouring his right shoulder or arm. Asked about the injury later, he was playoff-coy: “The official word is I needed a pep talk in the locker room, and someone told me to keep my head up,” said Alfredsson. And who was that someone? “Randy,” he said, referring to a veteran, game-day dressing room attendant, “Randy Lamont.” ... Not nearly as funny was the way Erik Karlsson had his pocket picked by Max Talbot on the second Pittsburgh goal, scored by Malkin. The rookie Karlsson will learn the importance of bearing down in his own zone, especially at playoff time ... The first period saw a total of nine shots on goal and 32 hits ... Remember when you used to know the referees and had an idea what they were doing? Forgive me, Mike Leggo and Eric Furlatt, but I’m still trying to figure out the Chris Neil interference penalty in the first. Did you see Tyler Kennedy cross-check Andy Sutton in the back just before he was bumped from behind by Neil? Everybody else did.

Things I think I think ...: One of the many signs in the Penguins dressing room says: “Dig in. Shoot straight. Fight like hell. Hooah.” — Sgt. Major J.B. Spizzo. The “hooah” made me think Scent Of A Woman, but Al Pacino played Lt. Col. Frank Slade. Maybe they messed up and were trying to quote Jason Spezza. Wouldn’t be surprised. The Pens’ main slogan is Out For Justice, odd for a team which won the last Cup ... Three games into the playoffs, Peter Regin has been the Senators’ best player by far ... “Alfie” chants reverberated after the captain attacked a Penguin defenceman in the corner. “I hip-checked him, and he lays on the puck and I try to get it loose,” said Alfredsson, who took a kneeing penalty on the play. “We fall on each other and it seems like everybody fell on us.” Something else ate at Alfredsson before he went off. “There was stuff going on in the pile I wasn’t happy about, but nothing I’ll reveal.”

Between periods: Penguins D Kris Letang was the hero of Game 2, but his teammates should have raised him over their shoulders, instead of cursing him, during their pre-game warmup in the Scotiabank Place hallway. That way, he might have been able to get the soccer ball down from the rafters that he put up in there ... Letang was smoked early in the first by teammate Mark Eaton. It had nothing to do with the soccer ball incident. Eaton was trying to clock Senators C Jason Spezza .... Letang was once again getting pats of appreciation from his teammates in the third after he was the victim of a double-team hit by Ottawa RW Chris Neil and C Chris Kelly that knocked his helmet off and then, seconds later, when he went back to fetch the puck knowing full well Neil was going to crush him again. And nail him hard, he did.

Just sayin': Penguins C Evgeni Malkin, on a confrontation he had with Neil in the third that saw only the Senator sent to the box: “I’m not listening to him. He loves talk. To everyone. Not only me. To Sid (Crosby), Max Talbot ... He does his job. He plays tough. Lots of hits. I like him. He’s a good player. But I’m not listening. My job is different. I try to help my team. We have a different game.”


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