Red light district

Senators defenceman Andrej Meszaros celebrates his goal against the Penguins during first period...

Senators defenceman Andrej Meszaros celebrates his goal against the Penguins during first period action on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

On opening night of the playoffs, the Senators resembled a big red machine.

Everywhere superstar Sidney Crosby and the young Pittsburgh Penguins turned last night at Scotiabank Place, they found themselves covered in a sea of red sweaters as the Senators took a 1-0 series lead with a 6-3 victory.

Defenceman Joe Corvo, Mike Fisher, Peter Schaefer and Chris Neil led the charge with two-point nights, while Dany Heatley, Mike Comrie, Tom Preissing and Chris Kelly scored for the Senators, who improved their lifetime record to 7-8 in Game 1 of a playoff series.

"I thought we played well. That's the way you want to come out. We did a solid job," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "The crowd helped. We wanted to play well. It's only one game, but I thought we did a good job."

This is supposed to be the NHL's marquee first-round matchup, but by the time Heatley scored early in the third to give the Senators a 4-1 lead, the issue had been decided. The onslaught was so bad that, after giving up six goals on 36 shots, Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in favour of Jocelyn Thibault with 9:32 left.

Though there was concern the Senators might be gripping their sticks, they were under control and made life pretty easy for goalie Ray Emery, who was only beaten by Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, Sergei Gonchar -- then Crosby late in the third.

"We didn't stray from the gameplan, even when we had a 6-2 lead. That's important. All signs are good," said Emery.

The key for the Senators was smothering Crosby and teammate Evgeni Malkin. Crosby wasn't noticeable until he had a goal called back 23 seconds into the third when it was ruled he had kicked the puck past a sprawling Emery. Crosby finally scored with 49 seconds left.

For the most part, the defensive pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips was on the ice every time Crosby stepped out there.

'SOLID TEAM EFFORT'

"We wanted to come out and play hard and let the results take care of themselves," said Phillips. "We created a lot of chances and it was a good solid team effort."

Preissing scored his first power-play goal in an Ottawa uniform by beating Fleury from the right circle to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.

But the Penguins, who hadn't had many chances, finally caught a break with 3:02 left in the second. While Staal was credited with the goal, an attempted pass by Maxime Talbot appeared to bounce of Dean McAmmond's stick to beat Emery on just Pittsburgh's 12th shot.

The best way to describe the Penguins: Nervous. Like deer in headlights. And that's bad news in the playoffs.

"That was not the start we were expecting. Give credit to Ottawa, they beat us in every aspect of the game," said Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien.

Kelly scored the first playoff goal of his career at 6:38 to give the Senators a 2-0 lead after blueliner Mark Eaton couldn't handle the puck.

"We didn't give them much. I thought we set the tone early and the way we came out was strong," said Comrie.

"We know this is going to be a long series and finishing every check was important."

While the Penguins will be licking their wounds, the teams will have two days to prepare for Game 2 -- Saturday at 3 p.m. in Ottawa.

The Senators have a 3-3 record in playoff series when they win Game 1.


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