Among the many things that the Ottawa Senators did well in their Game 1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was that their penalty kill was impenetrable. They killed off five Penguins power plays and Craig Anderson stopped all 10 shots he faced with the Senators down a man.
That success was a continuation of their shorthanded unit’s success going back to their Round 2 series against the New York Rangers. In that six-game series, they killed off 23 of 25 opportunities, including seven straight over the final two games.
Pittsburgh’s power play has come back down to earth since their 33 percent success rate against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round. They scored three times in 23 chances against the Washington Capitals and posted that 0’fer in the first game of the Eastern Conference Final, a 2-1 overtime loss.
After Game 1, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan criticized the unit’s puck movement. He spoke to the team on Sunday and reminded them that good movement was necessary, and something that brought them success this season – movement of bodies and movement of the puck.
“Sometimes just because the power play doesn’t score doesn’t mean it necessarily wasn’t effective,” Sullivan said on Monday. “So we try to have a fair assessment with our group and letting them know if that’s the case. So there were some — some of the power play was very good, and there were a number of quality scoring chances.
“We didn’t convert, and that’s ultimately what we like to do. But we think that this group is very capable. It’s been a great power play for us all year. It’s been a great power play for us throughout the course of this playoffs, and we know that it will continue to be moving forward.”
Pittsburgh’s power play finished third (23.1 percent) overall in the regular season, and for good reason. But when you’re facing a Senators team that did a good job of disrupting your typical game plan and kept the high-danger shots on Anderson low, those man advantage opportunities become even more important.
As they’ve done in different situations this postseason, Sullivan is confident his team and their power play will bounce back in Game 2 Monday.
“I thought we just got a little bit stagnant,” he said. “We’ve gone through it in the past where that’s happened, and we usually address it, and the players respond. So I thought we had some quality discussions over the last two days, and hopefully the guys will get an opportunity on it tonight. I know they’ll be better.”
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