March of the Penguins

Penguins forwards Colby Armstrong (right) and Jordan Staal celebrate Armstrong's first period goal...

Penguins forwards Colby Armstrong (right) and Jordan Staal celebrate Armstrong's first period goal against the Senators on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

Maybe the next step for the Senators is to get a 5-1 lead going into the third. Maybe that will be enough.

They've tried 2-1. Didn't work against Atlanta. Three-one? Uh-uh. No good against Chicago.

They had a 4-1 lead with 20 minutes to go last night against the young Pittsburgh Penguins, an impetuous bunch who seemed intent on giving the game away with bad goaltending and undisciplined penalties. The Senators wound up giving it back.

They totally melted down, giving up three third-period goals and then lost in the shootout to give the Penguins a 5-4 win at Scotiabank Place in front of 20,074.

"Every mistake we made in the third, they scored on," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We had enough chances early to lock up the game and we couldn't.

"It doesn't take very long for a lead to evaporate."

Sidney Crosby scored the shootout winner on a backhander on Senators goaltender Ray Emery, after Ottawa's Dean McAmmond had kept the Senators alive following misses by Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette.

The sloppy loss carved another point off the Senators' lead over the Penguins for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins struck for three goals in the third period last night to tie the game, the tide being turned by 18-year-old Jordan Staal. He got the Penguins going with his league-leading seventh short-handed goal of the season -- his 27th overall -- at 9:22, snapping a beauty to the glove side on Emery.

No problem, right?

But just 50 seconds later, Penguins winger Gary Roberts -- the one that got away from the Senators at the trade deadline -- lifted a shot from the slot over Emery's right arm in the Senators net. Uh-oh.

Two minutes after that, Ryan Malone scored his 14th of the season and the Senators had officially blown another third-period lead.

The game marked the first visit by the NHL's leading scorer Sidney Crosby to Scotiabank Place.

The Senators, playing without centre Jason Spezza (a late scratch with a sore back) looked to be in control after 40 minutes after an awful performance by Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury -- who gave up three goals on a stretch of five shots in the first period and was yanked.

The last one was one of those game-spoilers, a short-handed, 55-footer through the pads from the gimpy-wristed Chris Kelly of the Senators with 1:22 left in the first period.

After Kelly's weak one, Heatley scored his 41st of the season on Jocelyn Thibault for the only goal of the second period. That made it look like the Senators were on their way, but as we have quickly learned over the last three games, nothing is for sure with this team.


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