Ottawa 6, Pittsburgh 3. That was the result of last year's opening game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Ottawa jumped on the young and inexperienced Pens early, and the Senators rolled to a 4-1 series win.
Last night however, the Penguins proved that they are clearly a different team this season, as they out-muscled Ottawa for a convincing 4-0 win in game one.
The Penguins jumped on the injury-riddled Senators early, with first period goals by Gary Roberts and Petr Sykora. Roberts, who was playing in only his second game since a December leg injury, would later add a second goal in the third period.
Also scoring for the Pens was Evgeni Malkin, who finished with three points on the night. Marc-Andre Fleury continued his recent brilliance in net, blanking the Senators on 26 shots.
Senators goalie Martin Gerber looked much more unsure in net than his Pittsburgh counterpart. After allowing two early goals in the first period, Gerber settled down for the bulk of the game.
He kept his team in the contest before surrendering two more goals in the third, sealing the deal for the Pens. Gerber would allow four goals on 35 shots.
Pittsburgh refused to let Ottawa push them around for a second straight postseason. They threw the body around with conviction, which was evident by the team's 43 penalty minutes.
This led to seven power-play chances for the Senators, but the Penguins managed to kill them all, including some 5-on-3 opportunities for the Sens. The Penguins came into the game ranked 23rd in the league on the penalty-kill.
Pittsburgh never allowed the Senators to find their rhythm, as the Pens managed to shut down Ottawa's dangerous scoring tandem of forwards Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. However, the Senators have lost some offensive punch recently, with injuries to forwards Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, as well as to captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Adding more injury to injury, Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov was removed from the game last night after taking a puck to the face while falling to the ice. He is expected to play in Friday's game two.
Ottawa will need to muster much more courage and tenacity from its depleted roster if they wish to stay around for long in this series. After game one, it looks like this year's Pittsburgh team means business.
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