Pittsburgh Penguins Fall to Ottawa Senators in OT, Fail to Clinch Playoff Spot


The Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff hopes are officially on notice.

After losing their last three games, the Pens entered tonight’s tilt with the Ottawa Senators in a must-win situation. A victory would’ve clinched a playoff spot, yet the Pens again failed to capitalize on a strong start, letting Ottawa post four unanswered goals en route to an overtime victory.

Pittsburgh’s recent trend of starting hot continued tonight as captain Sidney Crosby scored just 10 seconds into the contest, wiring a slapshot past heralded rookie netminder Andrew Hammond to give his team a 1-0 lead.

Just five minutes later, winger Beau Bennett capitalized on a broken Senators play to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. Defenseman Ian Cole started off the play, intercepting a breakout pass from deep in Ottawa’s zone and putting the puck on Bennett’s stick beside the net as Hammond found himself far from his goal-line.

Patric Hornqvist crashed the net to score with five minutes remaining in the first period, giving Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead as they seemed to have the game in the bag.

The Senators turned the tide in the second stanza, however, outshooting the Penguins 16-13 and getting on the board with a goal from Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Pageau’s marker, which came shorthanded, quickly swung the momentum in Ottawa’s favour as the Pens began to show cracks.

Pittsburgh’s defense looked especially shaky on the play. Pageau cruised into the Pens’ zone and pulled a quick move to get past Paul Martin before throwing the puck across the crease – wherein it bounced off the skate of Derrick Pouliot and into the cage.

As the third period began, it was Ottawa who got the quick start, scoring 34 seconds into the final frame to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one goal.

Daniel Winnik was the culprit on the early marker, misfiring on a short pass that ended up on a Senators’ stick – prompting a quick passing play that resulted in a goal from Ottawa’s Mark Stone.

With only minutes remaining in the contest, the Sens pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker.

After losing a crucial faceoff in their own zone, the Penguins saw the Sens move the puck to forward Mike Hoffman on the point.

The young sniper made no mistake, wiring one past Marc-Andre Fleury to net his 27th tally of the season, completing the Pens’ collapse as the game moved into overtime with a 3-3 tie.

Capitalizing on the momentum they had built up over the previous two periods, Ottawa finished Pittsburgh midway through the extra frame.

Stone scored his second of the game for the winner, finishing off another crisp passing play from the Senators.

While the Pens have now lost four consecutive games as the season comes to a close, they can at least be thankful that they managed to survive until overtime.

The one point gained from the overtime loss takes them to 96 points and keeps them just barely ahead of Ottawa, who now have 95. Thus, the Penguins remain in the first Eastern conference Wild Card spot, while the Senators sit outside the top eight.

Both teams face tough tasks in their next contests however, with the Pens facing the New York Islanders and Ottawa facing the New York Rangers, meaning the final season result is still very much in question.

Pittsburgh will get a favourable match-up in their last game of the season, however, as they’ll play the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

The Senators’ last game won’t be quite so easy. They’ll travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers as they try to continue their climb back into playoff relevancy.

While Pittsburgh still sits ahead of Ottawa in the standings, they’re certainly not pleased with the results they’ve gotten as of late.

The team has given up four goals or more in each of their last four games and, with the playoffs just around the corner, look no closer to putting it all together in time for an extended postseason run.

Pittsburgh is still very much in the playoff mix, and still has the opportunity to right the ship, but they’re quickly running out of time as the rest of the Eastern conference is ramping up the pressure.

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