Somewhere Ray Emery is breathing a sigh of relief...
Ask any goalie in any level of hockey and he'll probably tell you the same thing; if you stop 49 shots on any given night, you deserve the win. (Un)Fortunately that was not the case for the Senators' Martin Gerber. You almost (don't) feel bad for the guy. I mean, he looked a bit shaky in Game 1, but he was really on top of his game tonight. Too bad his offense couldn't pad the lead and his defense couldn't stop at least a dozen or so of the 53 shots he faced.
Too bad indeed.
On the opposite side of the ice, for over a period and a half it looked as if Marc-Andre Fleury was easily en route to another win, perhaps even a shutout. However that was slowly and surely depleted as the Senators routed three straight unanswered goals to tie the game at three.
I'll admit - I kind of got nervous here; and hey, you did too. But you also knew deep down that they couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't lose this game. While 49 saves is definitely a tremendous effort on the part of the goaltender, an offense like that of the Penguins deserves the win just as much. For all intensive purposes, the score should have been 11-3.
After Ottawa tied it up in the third, it all came down to discipline. Whichever team was taking the penalty was most likely taking the loss. Pittsburgh, who converted on two power play attempts earlier in the night, were certainly the bigger threat with the man advantage. Should one reminisce on game one, you may remember the two 5-on-3 chances given to Ottawa. You may also remember that game ended 4-0 in favor of the Pens.
Perhaps it came as no surprise that Ottawa converted only once on two attempts.
Perhaps even more hysterical is that on the other missed chance, Pittsburgh was down a man and two of the four players on the ice were without sticks and Ottawa STILL didn't score.
In a general sense, this practically made it a 5-on2 in favor of the Senators. But MAF quickly dove on the loose puck in front of the net and froze the play.
Ryan Malone was rocked pretty hard earlier in the night. From a variety of playoff hits across the ice, Malone was noted as having a 'lower body injury' after the first. It didn't necessarily look like he was injured, but this is playoff hockey; the guys tend to fight through it.
But in the event you considered he was injured, and in the event you felt he was incapable of playing, Malone showed you why he's the hometown hero. On a wraparound play following a Crosby shot, Malone swung the rebound past the out of position Gerber to help the Penguins to a 4-3 lead with just over a minute remaining. On any regular night they'd call it a win and cash it in. But considering Ottawa's surge earlier in the night, insurance was the only viable option till the final horn sounded victory.
With 16 seconds left Ottawa had the chance to win a faceoff in the Penguins zone. However Crosby battled for the puck, assisted Malone for his fourth on the night, who finally banged home the empty netter.
Somewhere in the rafters of Mellon Arena amongst the deafening sounds of yet another sellout crowd the fat lady was singing louder than ever.
Could this be it? Is Pittsburgh on their way to a sweep?
Not so fast. Ottawa showed they could score, all Pittsburgh excuses aside. Rebound goals, garbage goals - call it what you will. It still caused the heart to skip a beat and may have required an intermission underwear change. Word on Alfreddson's return will now permeate more than ever. Keep checking back this weekend to see what may be in store for the Pens in Game Three.
The Penguins take the weekend off before heading into Ottawa for Game Three on Monday night. The puck drops at 7.
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