Pittsburgh Penguins even Eastern Conference final with win over Ottawa Senators in Game 2
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins lost two players and scored zero goals through the first two periods of their 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final.
Forward Bryan Rust went to the locker room and never returned after taking a shot from Dion Phaneuf that sent him sprawling onto the ice in the first period. Shortly after, defenseman Justin Schultz also exited with an apparent shoulder injury after crashing into the boards. Neither player was on the bench when the second period began.
Dion Phaneuf absolutely levels Bryan Rust pic.twitter.com/rLUEvdQFQb
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 16, 2017
The injuries, and Phaneuf’s hit in particular, set the tone for what would become a testy, physical game punctuated by a fight on the ice in the final moments.
The Penguins peppered Senators goalkeeper Craig Anderson with 29 shots, including 12 in the second period, but didn’t score until Phil Kessel managed to get the puck by him at the 6:55 mark of the third period.
That was enough to bring the sold-out crowd roaring to life and, eventually, give Pittsburgh 1-0 win that evened the series at 1-1 as it shifts to Ottawa on Wednesday.
“It’s a little bit of maturity, a little bit of our group being together for a long time time,” Chris Kunitz said of grinding out the win. “It’s having the success we had last year and just knowing if we play a certain way that hopefully the outcome will be in our favor.”
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) May 16, 2017
Pittsburgh outshot the Senators 29-23, and Ottawa had just one shot with less than five minutes remaining.
“It was really the third period, I think they stepped it up one notch and we didn’t,” said Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher. “You can’t expect to beat a team like that when you constantly give them the puck.”
After Game 1, the Penguins talked about needing to take better advantage of their opportunities. They still struggled against Anderson and Ottawa’s often stifling style of play for much of Monday night, but Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves — including several important ones in the final minutes — to give Pittsburgh the chance to win with a single goal.
“That’s what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to frustrate us,” said forward Scott Wilson. “I thought a little bit there it was getting to us, but we got a strong group in here and kind of keep each other motivated.”
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said the Penguins, who entered the series as the highest-scoring team left in the playoffs, are capable of winning low-scoring games, too.
Just as long as they don’t beat themselves.
“We don’t have to win a game 7-6,” Sullivan said. “We can win a game 1-0 just like we did tonight as long as we make sure we embrace that challenge and don’t feed the other team’s transition game.”