Ruutu to the Rescue; Sens Win Game 1

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Not even Craig Adams’ first goal of the season could propel the Pens to victory in Game 1. Instead, the home team made the Sens’ third line (pest Jarkko Ruutu, cement-head Chris Neil and Chris Kelly) look like like all-stars in a deflating 5-4 loss.

Ex-Pen Ruutu scored what proved to be the game-winner and Ottawa also got goals from Neil and Kelly to take a 1-0 series lead. The first 3:03 of the game was great; not so much the rest of the way. The Pens managed only 12 friggin’ shots over the first two periods. Alex Goligoski’s goal with 2:24 left made for an interesting finish, but Ottawa deserved the win.

I defended M-A Fleury a couple weeks ago after a bad game in hopes that he would rebound in time for the playoffs. No such luck…yet. The flower wilted in Game 1, allowing 5 goals on 26 shots, including a couple of what I thought were stinkers. He must play better. The Pens should emerge victorious when scoring 4 goals.

Here’s a quick recap:

1st Period
Pens took a 1-0 lead 3:03 in on Malkin’s PP goal. We were all over Ottawa for the first five minutes of the game and looked good. Momentum shifted when Peter Regin poked home a rebound at 8:45 to tie it up. Bad rebound by Fleury? I thought so. The Sens took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish at 14:08 when Neil roofed a short-side wrist shot. Another goal Fleury should have had, in my humble opinion. The Pens had 1 shot on goal in the 16:57 after Malkin scored. Wow, that’s bad.

2nd Period
Sens scored just 1:20 in thanks to a horrific bounce off the glass on a dump in. Kelly’s power-play goal came as a result of a bad slashing penalty by Alex P. late in the first. Malkin got his second of the game, again on the PP, midway through to make it 3-2. Another bad penalty – this one a charge by Chris Kunitz – led to another PP goal from Ottawa that made it 4-2 with 6:46 left. To be fair to Kunitz, he was responding to Spezza elbowing Crosby in the head. The Pens had a great chance to make it one-goal game late when Ottawa was penalized for too many men, but failed to score.

3rd Period
You really got the feeling that the Pens were going to come back when Adams lifted a beautiful backhander past Brian Elliott 5:16 in. But Ruutu completely took the air out of the Pens, and the home crowd, when he sent a shot past Fleury (another one he could have stopped) just four minutes later. Goligoski scored with 2:24 left off a great feed from Crosby, but it was too little, too late.

Notes/Observations:

  • With Matt Cooke and Kunitz both in the lineup, Mike Rupp was a healthy scratch.
  • Fedotenko and Ponikarovsky have to start producing. At the very least, start playing better.
  • The Pens third line (Staal, Cooke, Kennedy) all finished minus-2.
  • Sorry, but I have to mention the funniest line of the night, courtesy of Bob Errey (while describing Kunitz’s forecheck against Ottawa). “He’s ready to pound some of that beef.” As the kids say, LOL.
  • Crosby finished with 3 assists – 2 came on the PP – but didn’t register a shot until late in the game.
  • Sergei Gonchar played a game-high 25:27 and had 2 assists.
  • Game 2 is Friday at 7:00. Don’t hit the panic button yet.