After an exciting afternoon back-and-forth penalty-filled game, Sidney Crosby found Christan Ehrhoff wide open with less than 2 minutes left in a 2-2 tie game. Ehrhoff, well, did this:
Talk about an exclamation point.
Early in the game it was all Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin scored a 4v4 goal in the title picture going right to the net and dekeing forehand at the last possible second. But goalie Craig Anderson bounced back in a big way, stopping 12 of the 13 Pens shots in the first period, including 4 more from Malkin and Crosby who had a few scoring chances. The Senators only mustered 6 shots in the first and were lucky to be down only 1-0, thanks to their goalie making some great stops.
The second period was role reversal- Ottawa out-shot the Pens 14-12, but it didn't even seem that close with the Sens getting sustained pressure and excellent chances. They would score two goals on Marc-Andre Fleury - the first a screened Erik Karlsson shot that Milan Michalek tipped from point blank range. The second was a nice shot by Mika Zibanejad. The damage could have been even worse though, and Fleury did well himself to make a handful of very fine saves.
After a penalty filled 1st and 2nd period, the refs put the whistles away for the final 20 minutes (calling only a Fleury high-stick that couldn't be ignored) and the two teams traded chances. Pittsburgh ratcheted up the pressure in the final few minutes but Anderson had all the answers until his defense failed him in the Vine above and Ehrhoff blew a shot by him that would have beaten any goalie anywhere.
Game, set, match, Penguins. A few more thoughts on the game:
- Zach Sill got kicked out of the game in his first shift when he smashed into Kyle Turris. The hit appeared to be clean, Sill definitely did well to keep his elbow tucked and lead with his shoulder, but Turris had passed the puck away. Due to the heavy hit, Alex Chiasson stepped in and instigated a fight to defend his teammate (and got busted up by Sill). Sill got rung up 5 for the fight, 5 for interference and a 10-minute game misconduct. We'll see if the league will weigh in with discipline due to the lateness of the hit, but otherwise it shouldn't be an issue.
- Newcomer Rob Klinkhammer drew two penalties in his first game as a Penguin, one of which led to a Brandon Sutter goal. This means Klinkhammer has probably contributed more than any Penguins 4th liner since Mike Rupp or Arron Asham. Klink also had a shot on goal and 5 hits in his first game here. Seemed exactly as advertised: big body, solid, not spectacular and not a very good skater. He's not an all-star but he wasn't bad.
- Malkin looked absolutely dominant early. They need to find the way to get him the puck more, he was practically taking on the entire Sens team with the puck and still beating them all to generate chances. It's always awesome to watch him practically dance on his skates with the puck.
- The five Penguins defensemen not named Rob Scuderi (so Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta, Paul Martin, Simon Despres and Brian Dumoulin) combined for an incredible 19 shots on goal, led of course by Ehrhoff's GWG and 7 shots. With the Pens better wingers out of the lineup right now, it's like the defense knows they need to put pucks on the net. A 20th shot would have been Maatta's if Sutter didn't tip it in for a goal. Good things are happening when the Pens blue-line shoots.
- Scuderi had no shots though. It's not his game, just wanted to point that out.
- But, if the plus side was the defense shot a lot, the Pens wingers only combined for 4 shots on goal (1 by Klink, 1 for Craig Adams and 2 for Steve Downie). Penguins forwards not named Crosby, Malkin, Sutter and Goc (2 SOG) need to be better in that area.
- Nothing against Andrew Ebbett but the sooner he's back in Wilkes-Barre, the better. Dude just isn't NHL quality at this point of his career.
- Nice to see the PP get a goal, even if the 3 players that factored in (Maatta, Sutter, Martin) all don't play on the regular first unit. Hard to be a great PP when 60% of it is hurt.
- Bobby Ryan gets piled on, but with 2 assists (and getting robbed right at the front of the net at the end of the game) he probably was the best player on Ottawa tonight.
Pens get back to a win and now can get a little rest before playing New York Rangers on Monday night at home. Then, finally for the 1st time since Nov 19-20, they'll get 2 full days off in a row and a little break in the schedule with three days off.