Senators' special teams a big letdown

Power play, penalty killing fizzles out

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The Ottawa Senators power play wasn't exactly lethal in the regular season.

But the penalty-kill was the best in the NHL, with an 88 percent kill rate.

Both failed glaringly Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series at Consol Energy Center.

The Senators went 0 for 6 on the power play, gave up two power-play play goals to the Penguins on three chances, then surrendered a short-handed goal late in the third period.

Even strength? It was 1-1.

"They scored two power play goals and one short-handed. That's the difference," said right wing Daniel Alfredsson. "We need to sharpen up on our penalty killing. The goals they got were scramble goals. We've got to be stronger in front of our net."

The Penguins first power-play goal was scored off a Paul Martin shot from the point that deflected off a defenseman at 2:41 of the first period. Ottawa's Kyle Turris was serving a high-sticking minor.

The second power-play goal was scored by Chris Kunitz at 18:33 of the second period from the doorstep. Center Cory Conacher was in the penalty box for holding.

"I think that put us back on our heels a little bit," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "We only took three minor penalties in the game and they took advantage of two of them. Obviously you can't give them any opportunities."

In the regular season Ottawa's power play was tied for 20th in the league, then hit a low point down the stretch going 2 for 29 in the last eight games of the regular season.

The power play came to life against Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs with a run of six goals on 25 chances.

No such success came Tuesday against the Penguins.

"We had seven shots on goal. We have to continue to do the things that we do. I think we could've probably shot the puck more than pass it," said MacLean. "The fact we didn't score and they get two makes it stick out like a sore thumb ... but I thought we were dangerous [at times]."

As for fixing it?

Defenseman Erik Karlsson -- his return to the lineup after a sliced Achilles tendon helped the power play last series -- said there were signs of life.

"I think our breakout was good. We moved the puck in and moved around pretty well. We just couldn't get the quality chances we needed probably," said Karlsson. "Had a couple of bounces here or there but it just wouldn't go in for us."

MacLean said speed and added toughness will help both.

"Overall our penalty-kill and special teams play ended up being the difference in the game," said MacLean. "I think we need to be harder and a little bit quicker. The good thing about that is we have the ability to do that. If we had any kind of stage fright or youthful jitters, that should be behind us."

Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba left the game late in the second period after a collision with Brooks Orpik and did not return to the game with an "upper body injury" according to the Senators.

"He'll be evaluated further and we'll let everyone know," said MacLean.


Jenn Menendez:, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published May 15, 2013 4:15 AM


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