The Ottawa Senators went into Pittsburgh and took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final with a 2-1 victory thanks to a Bobby Ryan overtime goal.
After a puck battle along the boards in the Penguins’ zone, Ryan tapped by the puck by Bryan Rust and then breezed past Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta before going backhand shelf to beat Marc-Andre Fleury for the win.
The victory was Ottawa’s sixth in overtime this postseason and the goal was Ryan’s third game winner of the spring.
Ottawa struck first 14:32 into the game off the stick of J.G. Pageau, who potted his eighth of the playoffs. Pageau’s forecheck helped force a Brian Dumoulin turnover behind the Pittsburgh net. That’s when Ryan picked it up and found Pageau wide open in front.
The Penguins had a good opportunity to tie things on the power play in the second period, but Patric Hornqvist’s tip was gloved nicely by Craig Anderson, who ended with 27 saves on the night.
The Senators nearly went up 2-0 with under 13 minutes left in the second when Alex Burrows’ pounced on a rebound in front of Fleury. The play, however, was ruled dead when the Penguins netminder covered the puck. The “intent to blow” rule denied Ottawa here.
As the clock ticked closer to 0:00 and the Senators clung to their 1-0 lead, the Penguins got a lifeline courtesy of Evgeni Malkin. After Ron Hainsey did a nice jump of dumping and chasing the puck deep in the Ottawa zone, Chris Kunitz picked it up and fired a centering feed that Malkin deflected past Anderson with 5:35 left to tie the game.
Pittsburgh will watch the tape of this game and see just how good Ottawa was at even strength. The Senators won the possession battle with a 59-percent Corsi in Game 1 and their penalty kill denied the Penguins on five opportunities. Ottawa’s shorthanded unit has been nothing but spectacular dating back to Game 1 of the second round, having killed off 25 of their last 26 power plays faced.
Game 2 is Monday night back at PPG Paints Arena.
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