-Greetings on a sleety, wet, gloomy but busy day in Pittsburgh.
-The Penguins parted ways with Eric Tangradi this afternoon. We have more on that in this post.
-Eric Tangardi was a helpful and willing participant with the media here in Pittsburgh. He was a genuinely good person. His only transgression here was not being a productive player with the Penguins.
-We're not sure what to make out of the Penguins' situation on the blue line tonight. Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen were both taken off injured reserve but that's hardly a guarantee each of them will play. We suspect Letang is more likely to play than Niskanen.
-With the Senators in town, that mean's Chris Neil is in the lineup and that mean's he'll be hitting. A lot. It might be better to have Deryk Engelland in the lineup to answer any aggression by Neil.
-Craig Anderson comes into the game off a shutout of the Sabres last night. Don't expect the Penguins to be the beneficiaries of leaky goals tonight.
-That mean's Marc-Andre Fleury has to be tuned in tonight. He has to match Anderson save for save the way he did against the Senators Jan. 27.
-The Senators will be playing 19-year-old rookie Mika Zibanejad on their top line with Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson. It will be interesting to see how he does going against the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter.
-If you like offensive defensemen, tune in for this game. Erik Karlsson plays the game pretty aggressively and can be sloppy in his own zone. It's fun to watch.
-Mark Letestu has two fans here tonight:
-Another No. 16, shootout demon Erik Christensen:
-The other Michalek, Zbynek, has a fan on hand:
-Non-Jersey Fouls of the Night: Ed Belfour Maple Leafs and Esa Tikkanen Capitals:
(The third party rival clause applies here. Toronto is a rival of Ottawa and Washington is a rival with Pittsburgh.)
-Jersey Foul of the Night: Jordan Eberle All-Star:
-Jersey of the Night: Given the postseason nightmares the man gave the Senators, we have to go with Gary Roberts:
-Letang and Niskanen are each in the lineup.
-The Penguins starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo and Dustin Jeffrey.
-We suspect the presence of Chris Neil played a role in dressing Engelland over Bortuzzo.
-The Senators' starters are Kaspars Daugavins, Chris Neil, Zach Smith, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Lundin and Craig Anderson.
-Surprisingly, their lone scratch is Milan Michalek. Wow. A few of the Ottawa reporters in town seem surprsied by that.
-Jeff Jimerson handles the national anthems:
19:33: Letang goes in deep on the right wing and snaps off wrister on net. Anderson kicks it out.
18:20: A slapper by Paul Martin is rejected by Anderson.
18:10: Erik Condra gets deep on the right wing wall and puts a wrister on net. Fleury rejects it.
17:52: From deep on the left wing Andre Benoit deals a pass to the slot. Zibanejad re-directs it on net. Fleury kicks it out. Tough save.
17:37: Niskanen chucks a wrister on net from the left point. Anderson eats it up.
17:11: Simon Despres controls a puck behind his own net and plays it up ice. As he releases the puck, Smith runs him over. Oof.
17:00: Looks like the Penguins are working with the following defensive pairings:
15:52: After Zach Boychuk forces a neutral zone turnover, Malkin picks up the puck at the Ottawa blue line, barrels into the offensive zone and whips a backhander on net. Anderson says no.
15:03: Kennedy gets some space on the left wing wall and snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Anderson kicks it out. Cooke follows up on the rebound in the slot but is rejected by Anderson.
14:45: Condra takes a pass on the right wall, gets slightly behind Engelland and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
14:07: Using Niskanen as a screen, Jakob Silfverberg lifts a wrister on net. Fleury gobbles it up.
13:32: Jim O'Brien battles his way up the right wing wall, muscles by Despres and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury fights it off.
11:07: Daugavins controls a puck on the left wing wall, spins off a check from Dupuis and deals a centering pass to Smith who puts a heavy shot on net. Fleury fights it off.
10:41 Smith takes a pass at the Penguins blue line, gets behind Martin and Orpik and is off on a breakaway from the blue line in. As Martin lunges to attempt a poke check, Smith gets a wrister on net but is denied by Fleury's pads. Smith trips up behind the net and tumbles into the end boards. Big save by Fleury. Martin is called for tripping. Glass, Adams, Oprik and Letang take the ice.
10:34: Gonchar winds up and blast a one-timer form the lepft point. Tanner Glass gets a piece of it and deflects the puck wide.
10:09: Gonchar cranks a slapper form the left point. Cooke squares up and takes the shot in the chest. He falls to the ice, gathers himself and chops the puck down ice.
9:16: Gonchar has another shot blocked. This time, he chops a slapper from center point. Dupuis challenges and blocks it with his legs. Dupuis is hobbled a bit but still clears it down ice.
8:41: The Martin minor expires. The Senators managed to get two shots on net that two minutes.
7:43: On a delayed penalty, Dupus puts a shot on net from above the left circle. It hits a mass of humanity in front of the cage. The rebound bounces to Kunitz in the right circle. Kunitz chops it on net. It hits more bodies. Ottawa eventually touches the puck and kills play. O'Brien is called for holding up Crosby behind the Ottawa net. Crosby, Malkin, James Neal, Kunitz and Martin take the ice.
7:34: From the left half wall, Crosby wires a slapper on net. Anderson eats it up.
6:56: Short-handed, Smith pushes the puck up the let wing and chops a slapper over the Penguins' cage.
6:28: Malkin controls the puck int he right circle, holds, holds, holds and puts a wrhiste ron net. Anderson fight sit off despite a screen.
5:43: The O'Brien minor expires. The Penguins had two shots on net during that chance.
5:14: Niskanen falls down with the puck in his own right circle and turns it over to Silfverberg. Silverberg puts a wrister on net but Sutter is on a backcheck and goes stick on puck deflecting the puck out of play. Niskanen owes him a beer.
5:05: According to Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen, Michalek suffered a "lower-body" injury during warm-ups.
4:02: Martin steals the puck at the right point, holds off two Senators and deals a pass to Orpik above the left circle. Orpik lifts a wrister on net which Anderson fights off.
3:37: Dupuis earns a goal through hard work. Hustling after a dump-in behind the Ottawa cage, he forces Marc Methot to make a quick chip up the boards to the right wing. Kunitz forces a turnover and the puck eventually ends up on Crosyb's stick. Crosby saucers a pass to the right circle where Dupuis is able to swipe it into the cage by Anderson's left pad. That was the product of simple hustle by the Penguins. Crosby and Kunitz get assists.The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
1:13: Silfverberg lifts a heavy wrister from the right point on net. Fleury gloves it.
0:01: Malkin forces a turnover at th eOttawa blue line and whips a last-second wrister on net. Anderson steers it away.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Senators 0.
-That was a pretty even and entertaining period of hockey all around. Both teams had some quality scoring chances and strong goaltending. The Penguins just happened to be the team that put one shot behind the goaltender.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding. And he had to be. The Senators generated some quality scoring chances and Fleury was up to the task.
-Niskanen and Letang looked okay but a bit hesitant at time. They just need to shake some rust off.
-The Senators grinders were creating their best chances. Smith, Condra and O'Brien had their best shots on net.
-We again like the progress of the Penguins' third line, they kept things simple and presented some issues for Ottawa.
-The Penguins have a 15-11 lead in shots.
-Malkin leads the game with three.
-Smith, Silfverberg and Condra each lead the Senators with two.
-Crosby leads the game with 8:17 of ice time.
-Martin is right behind him with 8:15.
-Condra leads the Senators with 7:58.
-The Penguins have a 12-11 lead in faceoffs (52 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Zibanejad is 3 for 3 (100 percent).
19:20: Off a turnover by the Penguins in their own right wing corner, Neil has a chance in tight but is denied by Fleury.
18:05: Attendance is announced as 18,637. It is the team's 260th consecutive sell-out.
17:35: Benoit chucks a feed from the left point to the slot. Zibanejad has his stick on the ice and re-directs the puck wide of the cage.
17:12: The great Joe Vitale gets a little space on the right inw all and lifts a wrister on net. ANderson steers it away.
16:50: Off a feed from the left wing wall by Depsres, Engelland has a month to shoot above the right circle but misses the cage.
16:00: Cooke is out with Neal and Malkin.
15:15: Boychuk takes Cooke's place on the third line.
14:48: Kenney snaps off a wrister form the left wing. Zibanejad deflects the puck out of play with a stick on puck.
12:09: Zibanejad challenge Martin one-on-one off the left wing wall. Martin hits him and separates him from the puck. Fleury swats away the puck. Martin apparently made contact with Zibanejad too long and is called for interference. Kind of a ticky-tack penalty. Adams, Sutter, Orpik and Letang.
11:29: Tough spot here for the Penguins as Dupuis is called for hooking Stephane Da Costa in the nutla zone. Orpik, Asams and Cokoe take the ice. The Snators will have a two-man advantage for 1:20.
10:56: After some crisp passing aroudn the offensive zone, Gonchar boms a slapper form above the left circle. It hits something and eflects out of play.
10:32: Adams muscles the puck off Smith behind the cage, skates it through his slot and chips it down ice. What an effort by Adams.
10:09: Sutter blocks a one-timer from Gonchar in the right circle. The rebound clears the zone as the Martin minor expires. The Senators till have 40 seconds of a one-man advantage.
9:29: What a break for the Senators. Just as the Dupuis minor expire, the Senator strike. Gonchar snaps off a wrister from the left point. It hits something and deflects to the left side of the cage. Da Costa settles the puck and chucks it into Fleury legs. The puck squeaks through and into the cage. Fleury wasn't hugging the post tight enough. He needs to make that save. Alfredsson and Gonchar get assists. The goal counts as an even-strenght goal. Penguins 1, Senators 1.
9:05: And just like that, Ottawa takes a lead.Put this one on Fleury. After the Penguins turn the puck in the neutral zone, O'Brien gets the puck and rips a wobbly wrister to the far side. It clanks off the cuff of Fleury's glove and bounces into the cage. Ouch. That was brutal. Completely inexcusable by Fleury. Condra gets the only assist. Senators 2-1.
7:44: Phillips is nabbed for holding. Crosby, Malkin, Martin, Neal and Kuntiz take the ice.
7:11: From center point, Martin slides a pass to Malkin in the right circle. Malkin booms a one-timer wide to the far side.
6:13: James Neal and the power play come to the rescue. Martin controls puck on the right half wall, skates down low and deals to Crosby in the right corner. Crosby taps a quick pass to Neal in the right circle. Neal grips and rips a sizzling wrister by the glove hand of Anderson. What a shot. Can't leave him wide open there. Crosby and Martin get assists. It's Crosby's 400th career assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2, Senators 2.
4:41: The Penguins are chasing the Senators in their own defensive zone. Phillips fires a wrister from the left crcle. Vitale dives down to block the shot.
2:12: Another minor for Paul Martin. He trips up Kyle Turris in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone. That's his third minor of the night. Crosby, Letang, Dupuis and Oprik take the ice.
0:52: A big save for FLeury. Zibanejad deals a pass out of the right wing corner to Alfredsson all alone in the left circle. Fleury reads the play, slides to his right and kicks it out. Big save.
0:18: Bad moment here for the Senators as Erik Karlsson is in some distress. After being hit into the left corner boards of the Ottawa zone, he gets up with all his weight on his right skate. He hold up his left leg. An athletic trainer helps him to the bench. Karlsson throws his stick into the boards. He's helped to the dressing room. Replays appeared to show Cooke clipping the back of Karlsson's left ankle with his left skate. That's scary. That could be somethng pretty serious.
0:12: The Martin minor expires.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Senators 2.
-First things first, that injury to Karlsson looked bad. If that's long-term, it could wreck Ottawa's season.
-On a brief glance, that looked like a simple basic hockey play. Cooke and Karlsson were battling for the puck. Their skates got tangled and Karlsson gets cut. That happens more often than most people realize. The fact that it was Cooke makes it a bigger issue but that looked like a innocent hockey play. Nothing malicious.
-Judge for your self:
-Fleury has had better period of hockey. Each of Ottawa's goals were preventable. He has to be better in those situations. That said, he made a huge save against Alfredsson on the late power play.
-More penalties by the Penguins. They need to find some discipline eventually.
-The Senators have a 23-20 lead in shots.
-Condra leads the game with four shots.
-Malkin leads the Penguins with three.
-Gonchar leads the game with 17:56 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 17:22.
The Penguins have a 22-21 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 17 (59 percent).
-Da Costa is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
Sutter, Cooke and Orpik each lead the game with three blocked shots.
-Zibanejad leads the game with two.
19:47: During a stoppage, Zach Smith appears to be looking for a little revenge and tries to start something with Crosby. A few shoves are exchanged but nothing comes of it.
18:08 James Neal to the rescue five on five. Malkin deals a simple pass to Engelland at the left point. Engelland booms a one-timer from which hits something in front and bounces right to Neal on the left side of the cage. Neal plunks rebound in by Anderson's glove hand. Cooke and Engelland get assists. Cooke had a nice screen on the play. Penguins 3-2.
15:31: Chris Phillips booms a one-timer from above the left circle. Fleury eats it up.
14:39: Methot chops a slapper from the slot but the puck is deflected wide by a stick on puck by Niskanen. The puck hits of the end boards and is poked on net from the left of the cage by Da Costa. Fleury eats it up.
12:49: Letang leads a rush up the right wing and deals a cross-ice pass to Cooke in the right circle. Cooke jabs the puck on et but Anderson reads the play all the way and fights it off with his stick. Good save.
11:38: Lundin pounds a slapper from above the left circle. Adams does a baseball slide and blocks it.
11:11: After some strong cycling behind the Ottawa cage, Crosby deals a pass to Kunitz in the right circle. Kunitz lifts a wrister on net. Anderson eats it up. Neal tries to start something with Crosby behind the net. Crosyb just sort of laughs at him.
10:22: Things get worse for the Senators as Phillips, their best defensive defenseman, is called for holding Dupuis in the neutral zone. That's two minutes. The Penguins can secure a win with a goal here. Letang, Martin, Crosby, Malkin and Neal take the ice. Neal assumes a net-front role.
9:15: Crosby flips a backhander on net from the slot. Anderson steers it away.
9:03: Malkin booms a one-timer from the right circle which Methot blocks.
8:31: Letang snap off a wrister form the top of the slot to the left of the cage. Crosby is positioned to the side of the net and attempts to re-direct it with his stick but goes wide.
8:18: As the power play expires, the Penguins strike. Malkin controls the puck behind the net and deals to Neal in the right circle. Neal snaps off a quick shot which misses the mark and slides to Martin in the left circle. With Anderson badly out of position, Martin deals a pass to Crosby all alone in front of the blue paint. Crosby chips it in for an easy goal. Martin and Neal get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4-2.
6:25: A re-direct attempt by Turris is wide.
5:01: Lundin grips and rips a shot from the right point. Fleury fights it off.
3:51: Per the Senators' Twitte account, Karlsson will require surgery for a torn left Achillies tendon. He will be out indefinitely. Ouch. That's awful.
2:54: Kennedy booms a slapper from the right wing well off the mark.
2:06: As a puck sails out of play. Chris Neil jumps Cooke on the boards near the Ottawa bench. Officials jump o the two of them to break it up. They eventually pull Neil off but he has to be held at bay for a minute by officials. Both players get 10 minute misconducts. Neil gets two minors for roughing. The Penguins will finish the game on a power play. Malkin, Crosby, Martin, Letang and Neal take the ice.
0:00 End of game. Penguins 4, Senators 2.
-First things first, Erik Karlsson will be sidelined indefinitely due to a sliced tendon which will require surgery to repair.
-What an awful injury for Karlsson and the Senators. He means so much to this team. There might not be a defenseman who is more valuable to his team in the NHL. He's such a brilliant, young player who is only getting better. This is just a brutal loss.
-Regarding the hit, it looked like an accident to us. Cooke was pinning Karlsson against the wall to kill the rest of the Penguins' penalty in the Ottawa zone. His skate came up and got Karlsson in a bad spot.
-Here's the play once again:
-Why does Cooke lift his left leg? As we stated before, he's trying to drive him into the boards to kill time on the penalty. He lifts his left leg and plants his knee into Karlsson's backside to pin him against the boards. As they meet the boards, Cooke's leg extends down and make's contact with the back of Karlsson's leg.
-It's a hockey play which happened to have a horrible result. That happens in contact sports occasionally.
-Let's face facts however. If this was Craig Adams' hitting Karlsson, everyone is worried about their fantasy team and know who caused the injury. But given Cooke's messy history, it becomes a story.
-If you wanted to used a ridiculously strict interpretation of the rule book, Karlsson could have been called for interference on the play. He initated contact with Cooke before either had the puck.
-Senators general manager Bryan Murray pretty much suggested Cooke intentionally did it after the game when he said, "It's Matt Cooke. What else should I say? Watch the replay."
-Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was more passive aggressive in his summation of the hit. He said, "I saw it quick. I don’t know if its intent to injure. I don’t know why you would hit somebody like that in that situation. I can’t tell if it’s intent to injure or not. He obviously catches Erik right where his skate ends and where we don’t have any padding.”
-This all overshadows the fact that Cooke had an excellent game. He was promoted to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal and helped them score the winning goal on a five-on-five situation. He did a lot of the (pardon the phrase), dirty work on that line. He went to the high traffic areas, forechecked, dug out pucks and created chances for Malkin and Neal.
-The man he switched out with, Zach Boychuk, seemed to have some chemistry with his former Carolina teammate, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Kennedy. Perhaps this change could last for the long term.
-Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen were a little rusty but that seemed to wear off as the game wore on. They seemed more composed and their time returned by the start of the third period.
-Penalties hurt the Penguins. They had to kill a ton of power-play time tonight and that wore on them. They need to find discipline.
-Marc-Andre Fleury rebounded after two bad goals in the second period. He simply robbed Daniel Alfredsson on a point-blank chance from the left circle on a power play late in the second period. That was huge. Ottawa could have taken a 3-2 lead and won the game there.
-Speaking of which, we can't recall seeing Alfredsson having a worse game in person. He was nearly invisible tonight.
-Craig Anderson was solid. He didn't get a lot of help from his teammates, particularly late.
-The Senators' best offensive threats were their grinders. Guys like Erik Condra and Zach Smith. Good for them. Bad for the Senators.
-Officially, the Penguins' power play was 1 for 5 but essentially, it got two goals as Crosby's scored gcame just after a minor to Chris Phillips expires. It was a product of what was produced off that power play. Either way, this unit showed some progress tonight.
-The Penguins led in shots, 30-29.
-Sergei Gonchar led the game with 26:59. Fire Ray Shero.
-Letang led the Penguins with 27:33.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 31-29 (52 percent).
-Crosby was 16 for 26 (62 percent).
-Mika Zibaenejad was 8 for 11 (73 percent).
-Sutter, Cooke, Orpik and Methot each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Crosby recorded his 400th career assist.
-Cooke passed up John Chabot for 62nd place on the franchise's all-time career scoring list. Each player has 134 points but Cooke (61) has more goals than Chabot (36).
-Neal became the 85th player in franchise history to score 100 career points with the Penguins. He passed up Blair Chapman (99), Colby Armstrong (98) and German Titov (98) for 85th place.