Penguins blank Sens in opener

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

PITTSBURGH - Sidney Crosby was held scoreless, but so were the Senators.

The Senators didn’t come close to getting off to the kind of start they wanted after dropping 4-0 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final last night at Mellon Arena.

Pittsburgh centre Evgeni Malkin scored twice along with Ottawa killer Gary Roberts, but the Senators inability cash in on two lengthy two-man advantages - including a span of 52 seconds to start the third - was the difference.

Yes, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in making 26 saves for his first career playoff shutout and “Sid the Kid” wasn’t a factor, but the Senators came up well short in their playoff opener against the Penguins.

Already without captain Daniel Alfredsson, centre Mike Fisher and centre Chris Kelly, the Senators took another huge hit with 9:26 left in the second when Anton Volchenkov had to be carried to the dressing room with head laceration that required stitches, but didn’t allow him to return.

Trying to block a shot from the point by Malkin, Volchenkov appeared to be falling to the ice when he took a puck in the head. While he was being helped to the dressing room, workers were cleaning up a pool of blood.

Now, if the Senators want to avoid coming home down 2-0 when the series returns to Scotiabank Place Monday, they face a must-win in Game 2 tomorrow night and they’ll have to improve in every face of the game.

Many will point the finger at Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber for his shaky performance to start the game, but the Senators look like a team that lacks confidence and the Penguins appear to be riding a wave.

No, Gerber didn’t look good early, but he stepped up in the second period and made a huge glove stop off Marian Hossa at the exact moment Volchenkov was lying on the ice to keep the Penguins lead to 2-0.

The Senators did try to push back, however, they missed a golden opportunity with their first 5-on-3 of the game which spanned 57 seconds with 4:01 left in the second by not getting much in the way of chances.

Just as the first penalty was expiring, Fleury made a glove stop on Cory Stillman and seconds later the veteran winger hit the post. For a guy who hasn’t had much success against Ottawa, Fleury looked composed.

The Senators weren’t only beaten up on the scoreboard, defenceman Wade Redden took it in the chin from Pittsburgh defenceman Ryan Whitney late in the third when the Penguins felt Crosby was being pushed around.

While the Senators were down 1-0 early, they had settled down when Malkin chipped the puck by defenceman Mike Commodore along the boards to set up a 2-on-1 that Gerber didn’t have much of a chance on.

With Chris Phillips backing into his own zone, Malkin threw a perfect pass across to Sykora, who fired it by Gerber on the glove side at 12:28 to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead only 20 minutes into the series.

Roberts, 41, an old foe of the Senators who is facing Ottawa for the fifth time in his career, came back to haunt the club with the opening goal on the first shot of the series by either team at 1:08 of the first.

After knocking Redden off the puck behind the net, Roberts, a playoff warrior, moved all alone to the front of the net and backhanded it by Gerber on the glove side to send the crowd into hysterics.

NOTEBOOK: The Senators didn’t make any changes to the lineup. Captain Daniel Alfredsson (knee/neck), RW Mike Fisher (knee) and C Chris Kelly (foot) remained sidelined. Ottawa GM/coach Bryan Murray indicated Alfredsson underwent his first physical activity today when he rode the bike. RW Brian McGrattan and D Luke Richardson were both healthy scratches ... The only change the Penguins made was scratching veteran D Darryl Sydor. “We have a lot of depth on our blueline,” said Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien.


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