Stanley Cup playoffs: Bad bounce hurts Penguins


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No one in the Penguins' locker room Wednesday night was suggesting they can't wait to christen a new building.

"I don't know about that," defenseman Kris Letang said.

Yet the Penguins were the stunned victims of the dasher boards at old Mellon Arena for an Ottawa goal that wasn't necessarily the back-breaker for the Penguins in a 5-4 loss, but surely was a head-scratcher in the teams' playoff opener.

Ottawa defenseman Chris Campoli, from the left point, sent the puck on what is normally a routine trip around the boards and behind the net. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury went behind the net to make what he expected to be another routine play on the puck.

Letang and his defense partner, Mark Eaton, headed toward the corners in anticipation of getting a feed from Fleury.

This time, though, the puck hit something in the left corner and sharply changed direction. It kicked out to the front of the net.

Senators center Chris Kelly was in position to rush in with just a few strides -- with Eaton, Letang and Fleury scrambling madly to get into some sort of spot to prevent a goal -- and swiped the puck into the net to give Ottawa a 3-1 lead 1:20 into the third period.

Fleury first played in Mellon Arena in 2003-04. He had not seen anything like that at the Igloo.

"Never," he said. "I've been playing here for a while, and I don't think I've ever seen the puck come back like that.

"It happened. They got a goal."

Not one that was expected by either side when the seemingly innocent dump-in play started.

"It was kind of surprising the puck was even there," Kelly said. "I kept waiting for a whistle or something. That play happens 20 or 30 times a game and normally goes all the way around the boards."

The Penguins will break in new boards beginning next season when they move across the street to shiny Consol Energy Center.

Kelly's goal was the first of three two-goal leads for Ottawa, and the Penguins never got closer than one after that.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said there were a couple of other Senators goals Fleury most likely second-guessed himself on, but he absolved him of much fault on the Kelly goal.

"Usually the boards are pretty good," Letang said. "It was not a rim [around the top edge of the boards]. It was more of a shot, just a bad bounce.

"It happens in other buildings."

Detroit, in particular. Facing the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final the past two years, Fleury and the Penguins have talked about being prepared for odd bounces off the lively boards.

The Red Wings never said the same about Mellon Arena.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, a stickler for the details of the game, was as surprised as anyone to see the rogue ricochet. He hadn't seen that on home ice.

"Not that specific bounce," Crosby said. "That's tough. [Fleury's] probably never seen that before, and he's played in here for a long time.

"You're always learning, and I'm sure both goalies will be aware of that now with dump-ins," Crosby said.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com . First Published April 15, 2010 4:00 AM


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