-The Penguins are walking into another emotional hornets nest tonight as they did in Boston on Saturday. The only difference was the type of emotion. In Boston, unprecedented times created a unique mix of mourning and celebration, at least at the start of the game. Tonight, this contest has the makings of something ugly and sinister.
-Let's hope the Senators realize what's at stake and view the bigger picture. A win (along with a loss by the Jets) could secure a playoff berth for the Senators. Generally, attacking Matt Cooke en masse doesn't help you achieve the goal of winning a game in the NHL.
-Here's hoping Steve MacIntyre's presence in the lineup prevents a lot of post-whistle "stuff." When someone as physically dominating as him is in the lineup, a lot of players on the opposite team aren't as brave.
-We've never understood the "MacIntyre never fights" complaints in his brief time with the Penguins. Why is there an assumption he has a long list of suitors who want to fight a 6-foot-5, 250 pound wrecker?
-The Senators have scratched their enforcer, Zack Kassian. That would presumably take some of the potential of hijinks out of this contest. That said, we wouldn't be shocked to see Chris Neil start something with MacIntyre. Neil routinely challenges the really big enforcers of the, seemingly to test himself.
-The always trashy Ottawa Sun thought it was best serve its readers with this cover today:
-The Penguins appear to be dressing a patchwork lineup tonight. With the luxury of having the top seed in the Eastern Conference secured, they can rest some of their banged-up players and get some of their reserves some playing time before the postseason. They can also iron out some wrinkles in certain aspects such as the struggling penalty kill.
-We would fully expect the Senators to control the early portion of this game. They might even open the game with a goal given the emotion and desperation they'll presumably be playing with.
-Eric Hartzell will dress as Tomas Vokoun's back up tonight. He'll wear No. 31. Should he see some action tonight, he'll be the 12th player to wear that number for the Penguins. The previous No. 31s:
-The Penguins' starters are Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Chris Kunitz, Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby, Mark Eaton, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and the great Joe Vitale.
-The Senators' starters are Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, Kyle Turis, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips and Craig Anderson.
-Their scratches are Andre Benoit, Mike Hoffman, Matt Kassian, Mike Lundin, Jim O'Brien and Peter Regin.
-According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings appear to be:
Chris Kunitz - Jussi Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Dustin Jeffrey - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Steve MacIntyre - Craig Adams - Tanner Glass
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Robert Bortuzzo
19:16: Sergei Gonchar flings a wrister fromt he left point. Vokoun eats it up.
18:50: Niskanen pinches in on the right wing and flings a wrister from the right wing wall at the cage. It htis a stick and deflects away.
18:25: Cooke steps on tot he ice for the first time to boos.
18:15: Neil challenges Cooke at the Penguins' blue line Cooke doesn't take the invitation.
17:59: Cooke already gets the Senators to take a penalty as Eric Grbya interferes with him on the right wing wall of the Ottawa zone. Neil gets right in Cooke's face. Cooke doesn't appear to take him very seriously:
Niskanen, Pascal Dupuis, Kunitz, Ignla and Jokinen take the ice.
17:31: Niskanen fires a slapper from the right point. Anderson fights it off. Dupuis whacks at the rebound twice but Anderson holds it at bay.
16:13: Off a feed from Jeffrey along the left wing wall, Brandon Sutter lifts a wrister from the left faceoff dot. Anderson challenges and eats it up.
15:59: The Grbya minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins.
14:06: Zack Smith and Neil each get chances in tight but Vokoun rejects the both.
13:45: Welcome back Dustin Jeffrey. Dupuis takes a pass and gains the offensive zone at center point. He backhands a pass to Morrow on the left wing and drives to the net. Morrow takes the pass on his backhand, goes to his forehand and feed a pass to Jeffrey trailing in the slot. Jeffrey swats a one-timer by Anderson' glove. Some slick passing led to that goal. Dupuis, Morrow and Jeffrey each looked pretty comfortable there. Morrow and Dupuis get assists. Penguins 1-0.
13:18: Erik Condra pounds a slapper from the right half wall. It hit something in the slot and skids juuuust wide to the far side.
13:11: Patrick Wiercioch swats slapper from the left half wall. Vokoun eats it up.
12:29: Jared Cowen pounds a slapper from the right half wall which Vokoun fights off.
12:18: On a delayed penalty, Guillaume Latendresse corrals a loose puck to the left of the cage and whips it on net. Vokoun steers it away. Jokinen is called for holding Neil. Adams, Kunitz, Engelland and Oprik take the ice.
10:45: Alfredsson snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by Murray.
10:33: Alfredsson gets a chance in left circle but snaps off a wrister well over the cage cage.
10:19: Off a little feed by Alfredsson, Michalek gets a chance in tight but his weak backhander is kicked out by Vokoun.
9:32: More offense from the new guys. Jeffrey chips the puck in deep on the right wing. He recovers the puck and as he absorbs a meaty hit from Cowen, he taps the puck around the boards to Morrow behind the cage. Morrow takes the puck and one touches it to Iginal trailing in from the right wing. As Anderson is still hugging the opposite post, Iginla sneaks a wrister in by his left skate. Another slick play. This team is developing some tremendous chemistry. Morrow and Jeffrey get assists. Penguins 2-0.
9:17: Jokinen lifts a wrister from the left circle. Anderson fights it off.
7:44: Jakob Silfverberg snaps off a wrister from center point. Vokoun steers it away.
6:54: Kyle Turris barges out of the right wing corner and attacks the net on his backhand. Vokoun holds it out.
6:48: Alfredsson corrals a puck in the left circle and chops a shot/pass to Michalek positioned just to the right of the cage. Michalek tries to spin and jam the puck in on his backhand as Vokoun is sprawling. Bortuzzo falls to his knees and strips him of hte puck. Tremendous defensive play.
6:20: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Kennedy will serve the minor. Sutter, Dupuis, Engelland and Orpik take the ice.
5:55: Smith wheels his way down the slot and whips a wrister which Murray partially blocks.
5:11: Phillps chops a slapper from the right point. It hits something in front. Michalek is able to settle the puck, spins and lifts a wrister to the far side. Vokoun manages to get a piece of it with his glove hand.
4:50: Shorthanded, Niskanen cranks a slapper above the left circle. Anderson bodies it away.
4:29: Silfverberg tries to force a pass from the right of the cage to the slot. Engelland leans down and blocks it.
4:20: The Penguins' minor is killed. Not a lot developed there for the Senators.
4:06: The Penguins get a little sloppy in their own zone and nearly pay. Zibanejad deals a pass from the right of the cage to the left of the crease. Cory Conacher has a chance and punches it wide. He has to bury that.
3:42: More penalties. Bortuzzo and Alfredsson are each nabbed for cross-checking. Video replays didn't reveal what Bortuzzo did but Alfredsson clearly cross checked Bortuzzo in the neck:
Four on four for two minutes.
3:31: Jokinen races up the left wing and gets dropped on a perfect hip check by Gonchar at the red line.
3:19: Michalek chops a shot from the left wing on a rush. Vokoun fights it off. Orpik slams him into the boards well after the fact. A scrum ensues but officials break it up.
2:57: Sitting on his butt in front of the Penguins' bench, Sutter is able to strip a puck off Phillips, get up and create a two-on-one with Kunitz against Gonchar. Sutter elects to shoot from the right wing. Anderson fights it off.
2:28: From the left half wall, Niskanen slides a pas to Dupuis trailing in the slot. Dupuis hammers a one-timer which Anderson battles away.
1:42: Alfredsson and Bortuzzo return to the ice.
0:53: Conacher chops a slap pass from the left poitn for Silfverberg streaking to the cage from the left circle. It hits something in front.
0:06: Play is halted as Orpik and Neil mix it up. MacIntyre steps in and Neil gives them each a shove. As that is going on, Bortuzzo and Smith drop the gloves at center ice. They mostly wrestle and throw some wild punches before falling to the ice. Smith and Bortuzzo get roughing majors. MacIntyre, Neil and Orpik get roughing minors. MacIntyre gets a 10-minute misconduct. Kennedy will serve Macintyre's minor. THe Senators end up with a power play. Sutter, Adams, Murray and Engelland take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Ottawa 0.
-What a display of chemistry by the Penguins. They are playing with a patchwork lineup of mis-matched parts but they still have the chemistry of a school of fish. If that makes sense.
-What a period for Dustin Jeffrey. He's making the most out of his last, best chance to impress the coaches.
-Vokoun has been pretty sharp thus far. He hasn't face much from Ottawa's power play buthe Senators have generated some quality chance in tight during five-on-five play. He's been up to the task.
-The Senators have a 14-9 lead in shots.
-Michalek leads the game with three shots.
-Niskanen, Dupuis and Sutter each lead the Penguins with two shots.
-Niskanen leads the game with 8:16 of ice time.
-Phillips is right behind him with 8:10.
-The Senators have a 10-9 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Jokinen is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Turris is 4 for 8 (50 percent).
-Murray and Despres each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-None of the Senators has more than one blocked shot.
20:00: The Senators will have 1:54 of power-play time on fresh ice. Adams, Dupuis, Niskanen and Murray take the ice.
19:14: Gonchar cranks a one-timer from the right point. It hits something in front. Turris settles the rebound and whips it at the net. His shot is blocked as well.
19:07: Off a steal by Engelland, Adams whips the puck down ice to kill the rest of Ottawa's power play.
17:36: A loose puck rolls to Niskanen at center point. He one-times it wide to the right of the cage.
17:15: A wrister by Dupuis is fought off by Anderson.
16:19: Using Sutter as a screen, Condra rips a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun eats it up.
15:29: Methot tries to tag Cooke along the left wing wall of the Ottaw zone. Cooke dodges the hit and Methot gets nothing but boards.
14:43: Murray chops a slapper from the left point high on net. Anderson gets a piece of it with his glove.
14:06: On a delayed penalty, Gonchar chops a one-timer from the right half wall. It hit sosmething and deflects away.
13:49: On the same delayed penalty, A one-timer by Alfredsson at the right point is blocked in front.
13:36: Niskanen is called for holding Greening in the right corner of the Penguins' zone. Adams, Orpik, Murry and Dupuis take the ice.
13:23: Zibanejad whips a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun's left leg kicks it out.
12:15: Cooke appears to hold up Alfredsson with a hook in the left circle of the Penguins' zone.
12:04: Alfredsson has a wrister from the left circle blocked by Cooke.
11:36: The Niskanen minor is killed. Ottaw didn't have much sustained pressure there.
11:15: On a cross-ice feed, Condra has a clean look at the net in the left circle. He snaps off a low wrister which Vokoun boots out.
9:29: There's the Chris Neil we all know. Despres tries to skate away from pressure by Jean-Gabriel Pageau below his own goal line and BLAM! He's hammered by Neil on a forecheck. Neil sends him into the end boards with a huge check. Adams jumps Neil. A scrum ensue. Despres gets up immediately minus his lid. Officials break it up quickly. Neil gets a charging minor while Adams gets a double minor for roughing. Based on the replays we could see, Neil's hit looked mostly clean. Despres' head wasn't the principal point of contact and he didn't leave his feet until after contact. The only part which might have been how many strides he took. We're not sure why Adams got two minors for roughing. Despres remains on the bench. Either way, the Penguins will have to kill a power play. Dupuis, Cooke, Murray and Orpik take the ice.
9:04: Phillips strikes a one-timer from the left point.
8:52: Phillips grips and rips a wrister from the right circle. Vokoun kicks it out.
8:41: Play is evened up as Phillips high sticks Cooke in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone. We'll have four on four for 1:12.
8:06: A bad spot for the Senators here. Michalek is called for tripping. THe Penguins will have a four-on-three power play for 37 seconds.
7:25: One of Adams' minors is killed and the Penguins will have a five on three for 45 seconds.
7:12: A slapper by Iginla from the slot is blocked in front.
6:40: A one-timer by Dupuis from above the right circle is fought off by Anderson.
6:30: Iginla gets a chance in the right circle and whips it wide to the far side.
6:12: Niskanen cranks a one-time rform the left point. It hit something in front. A rebound slide to the right of the cage. Kennedy has a chance all alone with a wide open ent but loses the puck. Ouch. He has to bury that.
6:06: Play returns to five-on-five. The Penguins generated several quality scoring chances but missed an opportunity to really end this game.
4:52: Latendresse chops a slapper from the left wing which is blocked in front.
4:38: Play is halted as Jeffrey is behind his own zone holding his face. Smith ended up striking him in the face with his stick as he fell behind the cage. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart attends to Jeffrey. Jeffrey leaves the ice with a towel over the left side of his face and retreats to the dressing room. No penalty.
3:22: Jokinen knocks Phillips into the left wing corner with a sholder check.
2:57: Methot rips a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun eats it up.
0:44: On a delayed penalty, Dupuis holds a puck in at the left point of the Ottawa blue line. Play is halted as officials rule Dupuis left the bench before Vokoun left the ice. Officials send Glass off the ice for too many men on th eice and also penalize Phillips for holding Kennedy. Four on four for two minutes.
0:07: Gonchar whips a wrister from above the right circle. Vokoun fights it off.
0:00: End of period. .Penguins 2, Senators 0.
-Things settled down a bit that period in terms of physical play. Neil had the one big hit but there wasn't a lot of chippiness, at least compared to the first period.
-Play seemed to be choppy on account of all the penalties. There wasn't a lot of flow to that period.
-Officials seem to be very inconsistent tonight. They are ticky tack in some instances but let a lot go in other cases. It's been an odd game for officials.
-We didn't have a problem with Neil's hit on Despres aside from him potentially taking too many strides. The principal point of contact appeared to be Despres' chest. There was some contact with the head but as far as the NHL is concered, the principal point of contact is always a huge factor. Aside from a minor penalty, this hit didn't deserve any discipline.
-Tomas Vokoun is playing a really sharp game. It's a shame hsi effor tis kidn of overshadowed by the circle involving Cooke.
-The Senators have a 25-15 lead in shots.
-Niskanen and Gonchar each lead the game with four shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Gonchar leads the game with 18:27 of ice time.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Niskanen leads the Penguins with 16:50.
-The Penguins have a 19-18 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Kyle Turris is 9 for 14 (64 percent).
-Jokinen is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Murray leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Methot leads the Senators with two blocked shots.
-The Jets, who are chasing the last postseason spot in the Eastern Conference beat the Sabres tonight. The Senators need this win badly. Expect them to do everything they can to get back into this game.
20:00: Jeffrey returns to the game.
18:31: Latendresse chips a backhander form the left circle on net. Vokoun kicks it out.
17:45: Sutter deals a puck from below the goal line to Cooke int he slot. Cooke drives a one-timer on net which Anderson boots out. Strong work by Sutter and Kennedy down low created that chance.
15:20: Iginla lifts a little backhander on net from the left circle. Anderson denies it.
15:04: Conacher chops a slapper from the right circle. Vokoun boots it out.
14:44: The Penguins get another power play as Turris hooks up Sutter int he Penguins' zone. A goal here would all but end this game. Jokinen, Dupuis, Niskanen, Kunitz and Iglina take the ice.
14:29: From the left circle, Kunitz slides a pass to Dupuis in the slot. Dupuis whacks a one-timer on net. It clanks off the cross-bar and deflects out of play.
14:17: From above the left circle, Niskanen grips and rips a wrister wide to the far side.
13:50: Kunitz cranks a one-timer from the left circle. Anderson fight sit off.
13:34: Iginla tries to jam in a forehand shto from the left of hte cage. Anderson holds it out.
13:13: Iginla booms a one-timer from above the left circle. Anderson steers it away.
12:50: A backhander by Kennedy from the left of hte cage is denied by Anderson.
12:47: Morrow trips up Eric Gryba in the Ottaw zone. We'll have four on four for three seconds. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Murray take the ice.
12:42: The Senators strike immediately. Alfredo, not normally a center, muscles Sutter off the draw and kicks the puck back to Gonchar above the left circle. Gonchar slides the puck to Wiercioch at center point. Weircoch booms a thunderous one-timer which blows by the glove hand of Vokoun. It looked like Adams and Murray may have screened Vokoun. What a play by Alfredsson to win that faceoff. It counts as a power-play goal. Play returns to five on five. this game will be a battle the rest of the way. Gonchar and Alfredsson get assists. Penguins 2-1.
11:33: Turris has a chance in the right circle but pushes a wrister wide to the far side.
11:03: Another power play for the Penguins as Michalek high sticked Dupuis. Jokinen, Iginla, Kunitz, Kennedy and Niskanen take the ice.
10:18: Using Niskanen as a screen, Alfredsson snaps off a wrister from the right circle over the cage.
9:34: Kennedy rips a wrister from above the left circle. Anderson eats it up.
9:03: The Michalek minor is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Penguins.
8:34: Michalek dumps Adams hard in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone while battling for a puck.
8:00: Smith charges in off the left wing and attacks the net. He goes forehand but loses as he approaches the blue pain. Either Orpik or Vokoun knocked it away.
7:52: Jokinen hustle up the left wing one-on-one against Gonchar and attacks the net. Gonchar stays with him and knocks him off the puck. The puck slides in and is covered by Anderson.
6:10: The Penguins are in full "chip-and-change" move. In other words, they're chipping the puck deep into Ottawa's zone and changing lines every chance they get.
6:01: Neil lifts a wrister from the right circle. Vokoun eats it up. Murray slams Neil ino the right corner boards after the fact.
5:21: Gonchar swats a one-timer from above the left circle which hits Cooke's stick and slides in on net innocently. Vokoun covers to freeze play.
3:21: Morrow appears to get away with a trip on Methot in the Ottawa zone.
3:02: Murray thumps Condra to the ice in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone.
2:54: Methot lifts ashot from the left point. Vokoun eat it up despite traffic.
2:34: Matt Cooke endears himself to Ottaw fans even futher. he chips and chase the pucp up the left wing against Weircioch. He gives Weircioch a little thump into the boards and reclaims the puck. He dekes around an out of place Zibanejad and deals a pass from below the goal line to Kennedy positioned just to the left of the blue paint. As Neil is late getting a stick on him, Kennedy snaps off a wrister which beat Anderson on the near side. What a play by Cooke in front of his "fans." Cooke gets the only assist. Penguins 3-1.
2:17: A wrister by Michalek from the left wing is rejected by Vokoun.
1:11: Adams snaps off a wrister from the left point on net. Anderson fights if off.
0:38: Anderson is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:23: Anderson lifts a wrister from the left circle. It glances off a leg and slides in on net. Vokoun covers.
0:03: Smith lifts a wrister from the slot wide to the right of the cage.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Senators 1.
-Some NHL owners say: "Get me forensic tests on socks." Other owners say: "Get me other team's captains." We saw that difference tonight.
-The Penguins played without most of their core tonight. This was in many ways, the equivalent of a preseason games for them. Yet they still had several high character players in the lineup who wanted to play this game the right way and give an honest effort. Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow want to finish this season right and showed what they're all about tonight. They want to get their games at as high of a level as possible within this team's system entering the postseason. They're not mailing it in for the rest of this week.
-What is completely lost in the circle surrounding Matt Cooke tonight is the outstanding effort by Tomas Vokoun. He was dominant most of the night. Ottawa generated several quality scoring chances, especially early on. Vokoun kicked out safe, playable rebounds for his defensemen to handle and was not battling the puck at all. The only goal he allowed came on a perfect faceoff play on a power play. Vokoun was first rate in what is likely his last game of the regular season.
-Cooke played a smart and aggressive game. He ignored just about every invitation for mayhem sent his way by the Senators and did what he's supposed to do as a dependable third-liner for the Penguins. He was aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck. Limited what the Senators' better offensvie forwards could do and pinned Ottawa's defensemen in deep with a strong forecheck. The fact that he managed to torment the Senators a little bit didn't hurt the Penguins' chances at all.
-What an effort by Dustin Jeffrey. He might be facing the end of his Penguins career as he is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer. He looks like he want to go out with as much of a flash as possible. He produced two points and appeared to play a pretty responsibly defensive game. If everyone is healthy, he doesn't have a prayer of playing, but at the very least, he gave the coaches reason to be more confident in him should they need to turn to him.
-Once again, we had no problem with Chris Neil's hit on Simon Despres. Aside from maybe taking a few too many strides to make the hit, Neil appeared to strike Despres in the chest and not the head as the principal point of contact. He didn't leave his feet util after contact either. You be the judge:
-Honestly, the the hit reminds us of the hit by Chris Kunitz against Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the 2009 postseason:
-Despres has to bear some responsibility. He knows Neil, a notoriously dangerous hitter is on the ice. (Or he should). He shouldn't put himself in a vulnerable position. Thankfully he had his head up at the last second and appeared fine after the collision.
-Like Jeffrey, Robert Bortuzzo made the most out of his rare chance. He played with a ton of purpose.
-Out of no where, the Penguins have a seven-game winning streak.
-Daniel Alfredsson played a pretty inspired game. He seems to realize the urgency of his team's position in the standings. Not too many of his teammates did.
-The Senators had a 35-24 lead in shots.
-Iginla and Sergei Gonchar each led the game with five shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Gonchar led the game with 25:26 of ice time.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Matt Niskanen led the Penguins with 23:37.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 31-27 (53 percent).
-Jussi Jokinen was 10 for 16 (63 percent).
-Kyle Turris was 11 for 17 (65 percent).
-Cooke and Douglas Murray each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Marc Methot led the Senators with two blocked shots.
-Dan Bylsma won his 200th career game.
-Vokoun appeared in his 700th game and recorded his 300th career win. He became the fourth right-handed goaltender to reach those marks. Vokoun joined Tony Esposito, Grant Fuhr and Tom Barrasso.
-Tyler Kennedy passed up Moe Mantha for 48th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Both players have 168 points but Kennedy (76) has more goals than Mantha (35).
-Kennedy initially passed up Mantha last week but a scoring change took away a point from Kennedy.