OTTAWA (AP) – Sidney Crosby was careful not to get too far ahead of himself after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rout the Ottawa Senators for a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“I’m not talking about anything ahead of Game 5,” the Pittsburgh captain said when asked about a potential Eastern Conference final against the Boston Bruins.
But after the Penguins’ 7-3 victory Wednesday night, it’s hard to imagine Crosby and his teammates aren’t starting to think about facing the Bruins – up 3-0 over the New York Rangers.
Jarome Iginla and James Neal each scored twice, Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis added goals, and Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves. Down 2-1 after the first period, the Penguins scored twice in a 40-second span early in the second and added four goals in the first 10 minutes in the third.
Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Ottawa. Senators goalie Craig Anderson was benched after Pittsburgh’s sixth goal, and Robin Lehner finished the game.
“There was a sense like, `OK, this might take as many shots as we can muster to break this guy.’ And fortunately, we kept on that mindset,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “It was a matter of, `We are going to have to fire anything and everything we can at this guy to get one by him.”‘
OTTAWA — With the Ottawa Senators’ playoff lives flashing before their eyes, the never-say-die team found yet another way to win Sunday night.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson made sure of it.
Alfredsson tied the game with a shorthanded goal with 28.6 seconds remaining in regulation, and Colin Greening won it with a goal at 7:39 of the second overtime to give the Senators a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Instead of being down 3-0, the Senators trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
“I’m sure they look at it like this one hurts, they could have put a stranglehold on us,” Alfredsson said. “Now we’re right back in it.”
When a slashing penalty was called on Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson at 18:33 of the third period, it appeared the powerhouse Penguins would coast to a commanding series lead.
But with Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who finished with 49 saves in another stellar performance, on the bench for an extra attacker, the Penguins somehow left the greatest player in Senators history all alone in front of their net.
Milan Michalek saw Alfredsson cruising in front and put a wrist shot toward him, allowing the Senators’ all-time leading scorer to tip the puck into the top corner past goalie Tomas Vokoun, sending the sellout crowd of 20,500 into a state of delirium moments after they thought they were witnessing what would have virtually amounted to the end of their team’s season.
“When you get rewarded and score the goal you can feel the whole building the way it erupted and that gives you energy,” Alfredsson said. “It’s a great feeling.” >> Continue Reading Recap <<
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby stole the show Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. But the fact he had plenty of help may well be the bigger story for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby scored his second career hat trick in the Stanley Cup Playoffs — becoming the fifth player in franchise history to top 100 career points in the postseason — and the Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 at Consol Energy Center.
“I was able to capitalize on my chances and felt pretty good out there,” said Crosby, who scored his three goals in the first 21:15. “It was pretty fast-paced, played with a lot of speed, and everybody was going.”
Nobody was going quite as well as Crosby. He dominated early with his three goals then set the tone late with his defensive-zone work.
“Tonight, I think it was his best, and it was his best early on for our team,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 3 is Sunday at Ottawa (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It’s the first time the Penguins have won the first two games of a series since the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. >> Continue Reading Recap <<
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Ottawa Senators know there is little margin for error if they want to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If they don’t slow down Pittsburgh’s potent power play, they’ll have a difficult time against Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Penguins.
Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz scored power-play goals and Pascal Dupuis added his sixth goal of the playoffs and the Penguins beat the Senators 4-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday.
“We know it’s a good start, but it’s just like the rest of the playoffs we know it’s just the start,” Pittsburgh forward Jarome Iginla said.
A promising one at that. Evgeni Malkin extended his points streak to seven games with a goal and an assist for the Penguins while Tomas Vokoun stopped 35 shots to win his third straight game since replacing struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury.
Colin Greening scored for the Senators. Craig Anderson made 26 saves but Ottawa had no answer for Pittsburgh’s power play.
“Their power play is good,” Anderson said. “We knew that going in and if we want to have good chance to win a game we’re going to have to shoot down their special teams. It’s huge for them. If we’re able to kill those off, it’s a different game.”
It wasn’t in the opener. The Senators had the NHL’s best penalty kill during the regular season and turned aside 16 of 19 penalties against Montreal in the first round. >> Continue Reading Recap <<
Power play, penalty-killers combine to set stage for Penguins’ 4-1 win against Ottawa Read more: HERE
Kovacevic: Penguins do it their way
Read More: HERE
Special teams key Penguins’ Game 1 victory over Senators Read more: HERE
PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang said Monday he did not become a defenseman as a teenager just so he’d get to be on the ice more often during games. That’s just an added benefit.
Letang is seemingly everywhere in every situation for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who open up their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
One of three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL, Letang’s value to the Penguins was on display in a six-game quarterfinal series victory against the New York Islanders.
Letang averaged a point per game against the Islanders, and he did it while averaging more ice time per game than any player in the East during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Letang leads Pittsburgh in power-play ice time and is second among defensemen in shorthanded ice time.
Be it when the Penguins are pushing for a goal or when they’re in lockdown mode, while paired with a puck-carrying partner or a stay-at-home type … you name the situation, coach Dan Bylsma is comfortable with Letang on the ice.
“You want to pay against top lines, you want to play power play, PK, when you pull the goalie, when the goalie’s pulled on the other side — it doesn’t matter, you want to play every situation,” Letang said. “You want to be on the ice and making plays and helping your team win.”
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Pittsburgh Penguins are built to win the Stanley Cup. They took another step toward their goal Saturday night.
Brooks Orpik scored 7:49 into overtime to give the Penguins a series-clinching 4-3 win against the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Orpik’s slap shot from just inside the blue line was the defenseman’s first goal in 106 games. Evgeni Malkin gathered the puck behind the Islanders net and passed to Tyler Kennedy near the goal line. Kennedy fed Orpik at the left point and his long shot beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Orpik said after scoring his first goal of the season. “There was a lot of traffic in front, so I just wanted to keep it short-side. [Tyler] made a great pass to just put it on the tape for me. I just tried to put it on net as hard as I could.”
Top-seeded Pittsburgh trailed by one goal three times before finally getting past eighth-seeded New York. The Penguins are certainly relieved to be headed to the second round for the first time since 2010.
“We expected to win the series here,” said Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, who had five goals in the six games. “We’ve lost the last three [first-round series] we were in, and this one feels great.
“They’re all going to be tough. They’re all going to be hard. It’s the way you stick with it, it’s the way you battle. This one, [Jarome Iginla] said it best I think after Game 4: It could be the best thing that happened to us. Feel a little adversity and feel what it feels like to battle. This one feels awesome.”
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who was inserted into this series to start Game 5 instead of struggling Marc-Andre Fleury, made 35 saves for his second straight victory.
“We needed the win and we’re glad we don’t have to play them tomorrow,” Vokoun said. “Give them a lot of credit. They played a great series and they played really hard. They’re an up-and-coming good team. They gave us everything we could handle.”
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, “To be thrown into the middle of a series and play the way [Vokoun] did, that’s huge. Especially tonight, [when] they carried the play and had a lot of great chances. He was sturdy and solid for us.”
The Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they will face the Ottawa Senators. >> Continue Reading <<
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins had all the answers Thursday night. As a result, they moved to within one victory of advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Asked troubling questions by the spirited, nothing-to-lose New York Islanders in losing two of the past three games, the Penguins finally found some answers in a dominant Game 5 performance, taking a 4-0 decision at the Consol Energy Center.
Game 6 of this best-of-7 series is Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The eighth-seeded Isles need to win that game to force a winner-take-all Game 7 back here on Sunday.
“As the game went on, we played like we wanted to play,” Pittsburgh goalie Tomas Vokoun said after making 31 saves in his first playoff start since 2007. “We kept it simple, we got in their zone and that’s where we want to play. We want to be keeping the puck there for long periods of time.”
The Penguins did not start out the way they wanted and had to weather a first-period storm that saw the flying-high Islanders dominate play for long periods of time. If it were not for the brilliance of Vokoun, there was a good chance that Pittsburgh could have trailed at some point.
“I think we felt he was calm and confident out there and it kind of transmitted to the other players and went from there,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We were a little bit on our heels because [the Islanders] had a good start. >> Continue Reading Recap <<
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) – Leads aren’t safe in the wild first-round playoff matchup between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh. Suddenly, neither are the top-seeded Penguins.
Through four games of the best-of-seven series, both teams have two wins. The latest big momentum shift has swung sharply in the direction of the No. 8 Islanders.
John Tavares scored with 9:49 left, and the Islanders beat the Penguins 6-4 Tuesday night to get even in the series that will resume with Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
“We found a way today. Another roller coaster ride,” Tavares said. “We learned from those games when we gave up leads – a lot of us said that one bounce can change a season.”
Or end one.
The Penguins were ousted in the first round in each of the previous two years. They now face the prospect of another early summer if they can’t turn things around quickly.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys in this room that have been through this,” Penguins forward James Neal said. “We just need to regroup here. We’ll come out ready to go and fired up in our own building.
“We knew what we were up against. Once you get into playoffs, seeds and where you finished is out the door.”
Tavares slammed in his own rebound in front after Brad Boyes fed him following a turnover by Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. It was the Islanders’ third one-goal advantage in the game. This highly entertaining series has already featured 5-4 and 6-4 finishes at Nassau Coliseum. >> Continue Reading <<
The National Hockey League announced today that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top “defensive player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
The Norris Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (WHWA). All NHL award winners will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final in June.
Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter are the other two finalists.
Letang, who was nominated for the first time, will be vying to join Randy Carlyle (1981) as the only defensemen in Penguins history to capture the Norris Trophy.
Letang, 26, enjoyed arguably the finest season of his six-plus year career, tying Subban for the NHL lead among defensemen with 38 points (5G-33A) in just 35 games played. Letang’s 33 assists and 25 even-strength points were tops among NHL blueliners.
The Montreal, Quebec native became the first Penguins defenseman to lead his position in scoring since Hall of Famer Paul Coffey did so with 103 points in 1989-90. Letang’s 1.09 point-per-game average was the highest for any NHL defenseman since Coffey averaged 1.29 points per game for the Detroit Red Wings in 1994-95.
Letang’s game was more than just offense, as he was also one of the league’s top defensive players this year. His plus-16 rating – the second-highest total of his career – ranked eighth among NHL D-men, while his 25:38 average time on ice per game placed seventh overall.
Letang’s notable accomplishments during the regular season included a single-game career-high four assists against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on March 2 and a career-high six-game assist streak between March 2-12 (12 total).
Defenseman Kris Letang has been named a finalist for the Norris Trophy. Check out some of his highlights from this season.
Kris Letang had the puck near the high interior arc of the left faceoff circle, early in the second period, and he was dragging it, dragging it, dragging it toward the center dot with the kind of mounting menace someone once called malice aforethought.
In a blink, or some insane measurement that equals less than a blink, that puck was in the net behind playoff veteran Evgeni Nabokov, the suddenly beleaguered goalkeeper of the New York Islanders.
If Nabokov even saw Letang’s shot, there was no visual evidence of it, and there was even less of any tangible sense that he could have done anything about it if he had.
“It’s a 5-on-3 [situation] so you don’t have that much pressure,” Letang said with an invisible shrug. “It’s fun to get the puck as close as that, so you just wait for an opening or a passing lane. I was looking to pass first because we just made a quick play down low. I was waiting for a pass but after a while I just looked off the goalie, and just shot it.”
The wicked wrister was the 26-year-old’s 11th career playoff goal; only Larry Murphy had more among Penguins defensemen. But Letang wore his typical expression, the one that says whatever is going on around him is pretty much the way things ought to be. Thirty-two seconds later, Pascal Dupuis swept home a rebound to make it 4-0 and Game 1 was in the Penguins’ bag.
If Letang wants to take a few seconds to torture the netminder in a game when the Penguins are getting five goals without even having to give Sidney Crosby a uniform, that’s apparently his prerogative, but here’s another way, the most important way, in which Letang and defensive partners Paul Martin and/or Mark Eaton figure into they way things ought to be in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma put Letang and Martin on the ice against New York’s splendid top line of John Tavares, Brad Boyes and Matt Moulsen and kept them there. The sounds of silence that pervaded that gambit got interrupted only when Letang banged Tavares into the boards or when Tavares tried to bump Letang off the puck behind the Penguins net and wound up his can.
Through two periods, Letang had been on the ice longer than anyone except Marc-Andre Fleury, Martin only slightly less, and both were on the pond almost as long as Nabokov, who retired to the bench after failing to stop four of the Penguins’ first 15 shots.
By comparison, Fleury was kept relative inactive while the teammates in front of him kept forcing New York’s forwards to the perimeters.
“Nothin’ too specific,” said Eaton, whose second-period assist was his first point of the season. “We just wanted to be aware when we had the puck, and be aware when [Tavares] was on the ice. The best way to defend those guys is to make them play in the defensive zone.
“We just tried to manage the puck and make them play a 200-foot game most of the night. It’s a good start for us, but that’s all it is, a good start. It’s one game.”
Too true, but the obvious impact of having the gifted Tavares held not only goalless but stone shotless can’t be overstated, nor perhaps, can the value of putting a shutout in his head at the top of the series. Still, in a game which the Penguins were without not only Crosby but also defensive cornerstone Brooks Orpik, Letang’s brilliance was the primary impetus that resulted in a 1-0 best-of-seven series lead.
“I think we tried to take their time and space away,” Letang said. “Either by having a good gap or being physical with them. They have a really good line there with Tavares, Boyes and Moulson and if you take their time away, they won’t be as effective.”
This too, if you listen to the paid prognosticators, is the way things ought to be, and it’s anything but a surprise when you consider that the skunking of the Islanders Wednesday night was the 16th time the Penguins have beaten this team in the past 18 matches inside the city limits.
That does nothing, of course, to lessen the distance between the Penguins and their mission in this first round. All it means is that an ability to execute one major objective has been demonstrated, and is to shut down the top New York line.
“There are other dangerous guys, too,” Bylsma said. “[But] Tavares is a guy we have to be very careful of. I thought we did a good job of doing that [Wednesday night] and at both ends of the rink.”
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) – The Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from their home disappointment and dished out their fair share to the suddenly shocked New York Islanders.
All it took was Sidney Crosby and a very powerful power play to do the trick.
Chris Kunitz scored his second man-advantage goal of the game 8:44 into overtime, off the third assist of the day by Crosby, and the Penguins rode a slew of ups and downs Sunday en route to a 5-4 victory over the Islanders that gave top-seeded Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
The Islanders came in still enjoying the positive effects of their 4-3 comeback win on Friday in Pittsburgh that gave them a surprising split of the first two games of the Eastern Conference series.
The Penguins will try to take a commanding 3-1 lead Tuesday on Long Island.
Crosby, playing his second game after missing a month because of a broken jaw, drew the decisive penalty against Brian Strait, who held the Penguins captain as he drove the net 33 seconds before the winning goal.
“He kind of wrapped me up,” Crosby said. “I pulled up looking for someone. I didn’t see anyone so I thought I would take it to the net.
“We were hoping we could get it done quickly.”
The Penguins went 3-for-5 on the power play and yielded Kyle Okposo’s short-handed goal, but held New York scoreless on its three advantages.
“We had our chances. They scored on the power plays and we didn’t,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, who declined to comment on the officiating. “You always talk about special teams being a big factor, and that was the difference.”
When New York scored twice in the first 5:41 to go up 2-0 in Game 3, old Nassau Coliseum rocked as it did in the Stanley Cup-winning days of the early 1980s. However, this was the Islanders’ first home playoff game since 2007, and the fans were soaking it all in.
Not so fast.
The Penguins stormed back with a pair of power-play goals 19 seconds apart – first by Jarome Iginla on a 5-on-3 advantage, and then by Kunitz on the second half. When Pascal Dupuis gave Pittsburgh its first lead with 1 minute left in the opening period – capping the three-goal spurt in 5:42 – the early euphoria was gone in a flash. >> Continue reading AP game recap <<
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sidney Crosby did what he always seems to do in big moments, scoring two quick goals in his return from a broken jaw.
He gave the Pittsburgh Penguins an early two-goal lead over the New York Islanders on Friday night. Then the Islanders responded, doing something they hadn’t managed in six years: win a playoff game.
Kyle Okposo provided his teammates some inspiration with a well-timed fight in the second period, and he capped a compelling New York rally with winning goal with 7:37 to play. The Islanders’ 4-3 win evened the playoff series at one game each.
Game 3 is Sunday at New York. And instead of heading to Nassau Coliseum in danger of being swept, the Islanders have the momentum after a resilient 60 minutes.
“Our guys, they’re relentless,” New York coach Jack Capuano said.
The Islanders needed to be after Crosby – wearing a plastic shield to protect the jaw he broke on March 30 – found the back of the net twice in the first 7:37.
For a moment, the Islanders bench flash backed to an ugly 5-0 loss in Game 1 when Pittsburgh struck for three early scores to take any drama out of the proceedings.
Capuano kept telling his players all it took was a bounce here or there to get back in it.
The critical bounce came in the third period. Okposo fired a shot wide of the net that caromed back to the crease, then rolled off Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and across the goal line to give New York its first playoff win since April 14, 2007 against Buffalo.
“We’re in the series,” Okposo said. “We just wanted to come out and let them know that we’re not going away.”
Matt Moulson, Colin McDonald and Matt Martin also scored for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov overcame a sloppy start to make 30 saves as the youthful Islanders weathered the comeback of the NHL’s best player.
Doctors cleared Crosby to play late Thursday and the arena erupted when his familiar No. 87 skated onto the ice. Adding the league’s third-leading scorer to the lineup figured to make New York’s task all the more daunting.
Instead the Islanders counter-attacked effectively all night, providing the Penguins with an ugly reminder of their first-round collapse against Philadelphia last spring when the Flyers lit them up for 30 goals in six games. New York peppered Fleury for 42 shots. Fleury turned aside 38, though that number doesn’t include the 18 Islanders shots that missed the net or the 19 that Pittsburgh blocked, numbers that kept Fleury busy all night.
“It’s the playoffs; you lose games sometimes,” Crosby said. “But I think we’ve got to make sure we learn from this one pretty quickly. It’s not the way we want to play, and we definitely have a lot of room to improve.”
The Penguins couldn’t muster much after Okposo’s first career playoff goal, and the Islanders spilled over the boards after toppling the Eastern Conference’s top seed as a solemn crowd trudged to the exit.
The end played in stark contrast to the beginning, when Evgeni Malkin staked Pittsburgh to a 1-0 lead 43 seconds into the game when he poked in his own rebound over a sprawled Nabokov.
Crosby, who memorably scored on a breathtaking end-to-end rush in his comeback from concussion-like symptoms against the Islanders in November 2011, did not provide any magic on his first shift.
Instead, he waited for his second.
Standing all alone on the post, Crosby tapped in a simple pass from Jarome Iginla to make it 2-0 before the game was four minutes old. The Islanders cut the lead in half when Moulson chipped a power-play goal past Fleury 7:04 into the period, but the momentum lasted all of 18 seconds.
That’s how long it took for the Penguins to win the next faceoff and have Crosby skate behind the net, then roof a shot by Nabokov from just above the goal line.
Yet the Islanders, unlike in Game 1, did not succumb. Even as the Penguins were scoring, New York continued to generate quality opportunities of its own.
In the second period, those opportunities turned into goals.
McDonald pulled the Islanders within one 5:12 when he stuffed a backhand underneath Fleury’s pads from a bad angle. Martin tied it just past the game’s midway point when he collected a wayward shot off the end boards and slammed it by Fleury.
The surge seemed to unnerve the Penguins. Iginla drew a boarding penalty for attempting to retaliate after New York defenseman Brian Strait dumped Crosby, and Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen found himself fighting Okposo after Okposo took exception with a Niskanen check on Moulson.
Niskanen may have won the fight, but Okposo drew blood, a fitting symbol for what the Islanders were able to do while giving the Penguins a reality check.
“Kyle just stepped up for a teammate and anytime you see somebody do that this time of year, it goes a long way,” New York center John Tavares said. “It just seemed to keep pushing our game to get better.”
NOTES: The Penguins scratched F James Neal, who left Game 1 with an injury in the second period and did not return. Neal did not skate with the team on Friday morning and it appears unlikely he will play Saturday … Pittsburgh D Brooks Orpik missed his second straight game with a lower body injury. Orpik had played in 75 consecutive playoff games coming into the series … Tavares, who did not have a shot in Game 1, had six on Friday and picked up an assist.