Don’t look now, but the Ottawa Senators are three more wins away from a potential 2007 rematch of their Stanley Cup clash with Anaheim. Ottawa withstood the late game heroics of Evgeni Malkin to steal the first game from the Pittsburgh Penguins and put themselves in a good spot for when the series heads to Canada for Game 3. There is still one more game in Pittsburgh before the venue shifts though and the Pens will give their all to win it.
Don’t miss the action on the ice from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, May 15, 2017. Catch every moment of the game live on NBCSN. We will have NHL playoff hockey odds at BookMaker.eu for every postseason game.
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Pittsburgh has now fallen behind in a series for the first time this postseason and must dig in. The Penguins offense sputtered and failed to convert on five power play chances and was surprisingly outplayed by Ottawa’s frontline in this game. That shouldn’t happen in Game 2.
The posts helped out both goalies in this game. Pittsburgh rung two shots off the crossbar and one off the post, while Ottawa hit the post once as well. That must sting for over bettors who saw some golden opportunities end with the trademark ting of the iron.
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There’s no question who is the heart and soul of this Ottawa team. Erik Karlsson might just be the best defenseman in the game right now and is contributing in a big way on both the offensive and defensive ends. Despite a broken foot, he is still chugging along and playing inspired hockey at a high level and putting the entire team on his back at moments.
Karlsson led the team in points in the regular season and was a monster in Game 1 despite not scoring. He was able to hold Pittsburgh’s lines scoreless in his 30-plus minutes of ice time and continues to log many more minutes than any other defender on the team. The Penguins are going to have to find some weaknesses in his armor in Game 2.
It was all about Jean Gabriel Pageau and Bobby Ryan for Ottawa in the first game. Pageau and Ryan each tallied a goal and an assist and their forechecking set the tone for the Senators all night long. Ryan forced a turnover and then found Pageau in a great spot for the first goal, while they used their speed to get an odd-man advantage and score the game winner.
Ryan has been inconsistent this postseason. He has always had the skill to be a great finisher, but only occasionally lives up to it. Against Boston, he tallied four goals in six games and looked like a dark horse for the Conn Smythe, but then he went ice cold against New York. Ryan got visibly frustrated in the series against the Rangers and failed to score a goal. The Senators are hoping that they can get the Ryan from the Bruins series back here.
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Marc-Andre Fleury’s defense let him out to dry in Game 1. Pittsburgh’s defense made plenty of mistakes throughout the night under Ottawa pressure and was consistently turning it over in its own zone. The Senators used that advantage to pepper Fleury with shots and while he turned away most, he still got dinged with the loss.
Pittsburgh’s defenders will have a much better performance in Game 2. The Penguins were sloppy and careless, two things they largely weren’t against the Capitals, and can largely shrug off this game as an outlier. Pittsburgh will have a much better performance on both ends of the ice to even this series at one apiece before it heads to Ottawa.
NHL Playoff Odds: Penguins 4, Senators 1
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