Penguins Notebook: Game 1 was minor flashback
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OTTAWA -- The Penguins' 6-3 loss to Ottawa Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series wasn't just a nightmare for many of the players.
It was a flashback.
Not just because so many of the Senators were part of the American Hockey League team based in Binghamton, N.Y., that faced the Penguins' minor-league team in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs in 2005, but because of the way the Baby Senators dominated Game 1 en route to a 5-2 victory that year.
Minutes after the game Wednesday, Penguins forward Erik Christensen, a Wilkes-Barre alum, volunteered that "it felt exactly the same," and other guys who were part of that club agreed.
"It definitely does," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They gave it to us pretty good in the first game, were all over us in every single zone. [Wednesday] definitely reminded me of that."
Game 2 in 2005 wasn't much better, as Binghamton -- fortified by guys such as Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette who would have been in Ottawa if not for the NHL lockout -- went on to win, 4-2.
At that point, the Baby Senators had a 2-0 lead. And were on the cusp of a four-game losing streak.
Wilkes-Barre won Game 3, 3-2, on a Colby Armstrong goal in triple overtime, then took Game 4, 2-0.
"We regrouped and came back hard," right winger Michel Ouellet said.
And the Baby Penguins didn't let up. They won Game 5 in Binghamton, 3-2, then closed out the series with a 2-1 victory at home.
That gave them a spot in Round 2 and reinforced a mathematical reality that might serve them well in coming days.
"You need four wins to win the series," Ouellet said. "Until you have four wins, you can't go to the second round."
Ottawa's victory in the opener introduced many of the Penguins to the high-intensity realities of Stanley Cup hockey and forced the Penguins to focus on rebounding from that humbling defeat.
That does not mean they are oblivious to the rest of the world, though, and that includes the NHL's other seven playoff series. Pretty much to a man, the Penguins seem intent on keeping track of what is going on around the league.
"It's important to keep our focus on what we're doing, but, at the same time, I'm still a fan of the game, and these are the Stanley Cup playoffs," Christensen said. "I'm still going to be watching other teams."
He cited the Detroit-Calgary series that began last night as one in which he is particularly interested -- "I like watching Detroit a lot, and Calgary has a good team, too," he said -- and defenseman Ryan Whitney pointed to that matchup as having particular appeal, too.
The other matchup between Nos. 1 and 8 seeds, Buffalo against the New York Islanders, apparently has an audience among the Penguins, too.
Center Maxime Talbot said he will be paying close attention because his best friend, New York defenseman Bruno Gervais, is involved, but forward Ryan Malone will tune in simply because he believes the series could be competitive.
Love those playoffs
Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu's old team, Vancouver, needed four overtimes to defeat Dallas in its first-round opener early yesterday morning. The game was televised in Canada, but Ruutu acknowledged yesterday that he had not seen it all. And he seemed almost wistful that he could not take part in a game like that.
"I saw two overtimes," he said. "That's what the playoffs are all about. Play until you win the game."
First Published April 12, 2007 11:14 pm