Pens beat Sens, take 2-0 series lead

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

The Senators showed signs of life, but in the end they may have dug their own grave even deeper.

Ryan Malone’s power play goal with Ottawa’s Martin Lapointe in the penalty box with 1:02 left on the clock stuck a dagger in the Senators’ hearts as the club dropped a 5-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at Mellon Arena.

After coming back from a 3-0 deficit, Lapointe’s high sticking penalty with 1:14 remaining ended up being a killer as the club allowed three power play goals. The Senators now return to Ottawa trailing 2-0 in the series with Game 3 set for Monday.

The loss ruined an outstanding performance by goaltender Martin Gerber and a tremendous comeback. Cody Bass, Cory Stillman and Shean Donovan had erased a 3-0 lead for the Penguins in the second, but it wasn’t enough.

Bass made the comeback complete when he scored his first playoff goal at 8:51 of the third to tie it up 3-3. The Penguins had all the chances, but Gerber had been tremendous facing 54 shots and he gave Ottawa the opportunity to get back into this.

But, the Penguins best players, were their best. Sidney Crosby had three assists along with Evgeni Malkin while Ryan Malone and Petr Sykora scored twice.

The Senators have trailed a series 2-0 a total of six times in team history, but they’ve never come back to win. They did tie a series against Toronto in 2000 after losing the first two games, however, everybody knows what happened there.

Senators GM/coach Bryan Murray moved winger Nick Foligno to Jason Spezza’s left side with Martin Lapointe on the right. Heatley skated in the third with centre Antoine Vermette and Stillman. It appeared Spezza was hurt and he did miss a short stretch in the first.

Anybody wondering about Gerber coming into the playoffs can stop with all the questions. He halted the Penguins twice on breakaways and was the only reason the Senators had a sniff at a victory going into the third.

Trailing 3-0 midway through the second, the Senators finally showed signs of life. First, it was Donovan breaking the club’s playoff shutout string of 103:52 that stretched back to last year’s final against Anaheim by scoring at 11:25 of the second.

Then, just when it looked like the Senators were ready to be buried, Stillman tipped a pass from Heatley through Fleury’s five-hole at 16:11 to bring the Senators within a goal to 3-2 going into the third period.

Really, that was some kind of miracle. The Senators had been outshot 40-19 after two periods, but they had found a way to battle back. A lot of that had to do with Gerber, however, the Penguins had their issues as well.

Earlier in the second it looked like the Penguins were well on the way to victory. As the Senators were marching to the penalty box, Sykora gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead at 10:52 of the second on a blast from the top of the circle.

On a power play earlier, Sykora scored his second of the series by completing a tic-tac-toe passing effort. Standing alone in front, all Sykora had to do was push a perfect pass from Malkin by Gerber stick side at 5:22.

The Penguins could smell blood. They looked like it from the drop of the puck. Gerber was the only one who stood in the way of total disaster for the Senators and he couldn’t shut the door forever from the waves of Pittsburgh shooters.

Finally, holding a two-man advantage, Gonchar gave the Penguins the lead at 16:10 of the first. He fired a blast from the point with Chris Neil and Chris Phillips in the box to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

That was the 19th shot that Gerber faced. Up until then, he had held off Crosby, Malkin and Hossa as they knocked on the door.

RW Brian McGrattan and Richardson were healthy scratches for the second straight playoff game ... Going into Game 2, the Penguins hadn’t take a 2-0 lead in a post-season series since 2001 in a second-round series against the Buffalo Sabres.


Videos

Photos