Pittsburgh Penguins aim to take better advantage of opportunities in Game 2
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins have been in this situation before.
It was just last season, during their Stanley Cup run, that they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final to the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Saturday — exactly one year since that defeat — the Penguins fell 2-1 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.
The familiar position doesn’t have them very concerned.
“Our expectation was this was going to be a hard fought series, and that’s exactly what is started,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “It’s nothing that we didn’t expect. We’ve got to embrace it. We’ve got to find a way to have success.”
Pittsburgh certainly had plenty of chances in Game 1. It was capitalizing on them that caused the problem. The Penguins had five power play opportunities — four in the first period alone — but didn’t score on any of them.
Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson made 27 saves to hold Pittsburgh scoreless until the third period.
“We just got to find a way to create even more chances,” Sidney Crosby said. “They’re there. We hit at least three posts and there’s some good looks there.”
- Pittsburgh Penguins fall to Ottawa Senators in Game 1
The Senators, with their 1-3-1 defense, present a much different look than the Washington Capitals, who the Penguins defeated in the Eastern Conference semifinal. It took some getting used to, and several Pittsburgh players said that could’ve contributed to the slow start.
The Senators defense is often stingy, and that was certainly the case Saturday night. Ottawa finished the regular season in the top-10 in the league in goals against, allowing 2.56 goals per game.
“We were prepared for it,” forward Bryan Rust said, “but it does look a little different when you’re playing against it.”
“It’s different,” said defenseman Justin Schultz. “It’s a lot different. We knew it was coming. I think it just comes down to being patient and not getting frustrated.”
Ottawa aims to clog the neutral zone, something Sullivan believes his team handled well in the opening game. The Penguins had opportunities to challenge the net front, he said, and that’s where they need to do a better job.
“We’ve got to make it harder, I think, on our opponent to defend us by getting more pucks to the scoring area,” Sullivan said.
“It’s the hardest area in the rink to defend. I just thought we had opportunities to get it there, and we were looking for the next play. Sometimes, the play never materializes.”
The series resumes with Game 2 at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday at 8 p.m.