Mid way through the 3rd period, with the Penguins winning a close 3-1, Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson masterfully embellished an interference call on Penguins forward James Neal. With time 10 minutes remaining in a period in which they were dominating, the Senators had a chance to make it a 1 goal game and swing the momentum fully in their favour. The “Hockey Gods” would not have it that way, though. As punishment for his dive, Karlsson had to watch Pascale Dupius race down the ice 2 on 1 and roof it over Craig Anderson’s right shoulder. Karlsson made a bad pinch at the end of long shift and it led to the Penguins 4th goal, only the 3rd time Anderson has allowed 4 goals all season.
The 4-1 victory for the Penguins was much closer than the scoreboard dictates. The Senators outshot the Penguins 36 to 30, but that made no difference to Thomas Vokoun, who gets only his 5th career playoff win and 2nd shutout. For the first time in the 2013 playoffs Craig Anderson was outplayed by his goaltending counterpart. Vokoun was phenomenal tonight and, barring any giant collapses, looks to be the unquestioned starter for the Pens heading forward.
Specialty teams will undoubtedly be the story of this one. The Senators failed to score on all 5 of their power plays despite generating several good chances to beat Vokoun. The Penguins on the other hand made up for their undisciplined 5 on 5 play by going 2 of 3 on their power play chances.
Game 1 will more than likely prove to be the least exciting game in this series as both teams didn’t show much emotion until the 3rd period. The scrums got much more intense as the game went on, but like most playoff scrums they amounted to nothing.
The Senators shouldn’t be disappointed in their Game 1 performance against the Eastern Conference #1 seed. It seemed like a game that could have gone either way and decided to bounce in the home teams direction. Despite their victory, I’m sure Pittsburgh will join Ottawa in the search to improve their game heading into Game 2, which is slated for friday night. Discipline and special teams work will be hot topics for both head coaches as they have an extra days rest before the next contest.
The series stars will have to be better heading forward as Sydney Crosby and Erik Karlsson both had very subpar games. I expect this series to get very exciting as the hatred between these teams builds.