Penguins' rapid response buries Ottawa, 6-3
Evgeni Malkin scored one of the Penguins six goals last night.
Matt Niskanen (2), shoves the Senators Nick Foligno to the ice Friday at the Consol Energy Center.
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From the book of don't blink or you'll miss it, the Ottawa Senators came out and dominated the Penguins Friday night at Consol Energy Center.
Kept the puck in the Penguins end. Got a cycle going. Scored a quick goal.
The domination lasted nearly 90 seconds. Then, in most meaningful ways, it ended as the Penguins flipped things quickly and decisively in a 6-3 win.
As it turned out, Kaspars Daugavins' backhand goal on a rebound 1:19 into regulation didn't so much give the Senators a boost as it provided the Penguins with inspiration.
Chris Kunitz scored 27 seconds later on a one-timer to tie it, 1-1, the first of four first-period goals and five unanswered ones for the Penguins.
- Game: Penguins vs. Canadiens.
- When: 7:08 p.m.
- Where: Bell Centre, Montreal
- TV: Root Sports.
"There was talk on our bench right away about a response, and, before you could hear the echo, we had responded with a rush play from [Sidney] Crosby to Kunitz," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It continued from there."
The game drew 18,610, the largest hockey crowd to date at the arena, which opened in August 2010. It was the end of a 2-0-1 homestand and made the Penguins 7-0-1 in their past eight home games.
Crosby, playing in his third game after missing more than 10 months because of a concussion, had three assists. Tyler Kennedy had a goal -- his ninth in 14 games against Ottawa -- and two assists. And Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist. Paul Martin, playing in his 500th NHL game, had two assists.
"Even though they got the first goal, we were right back at them and got a lot of big goals right away. And then we controlled the game from there," said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 24 saves but also did something else.
Fleury picked up his ninth career assist on Kennedy's goal, the Penguins' second of the game, making him one of 12 Penguins who had at least one point.
"They scored pretty early, and we knew we had a lot of time left and we could still get back in the game," Crosby said. "Everyone responded well."
So well that Bylsma decided it was an ideal game to experiment with his forward lines.
After goals by Kunitz, Kennedy, Steve Sullivan on a power play and Malkin before the end of the first period, the lines got shuffled.
The most noticeable change early in the second period found Pascal Dupuis, usually the right winger on the top line, playing center.
It worked, as he scored the Penguins' fifth goal -- a center's goal -- at 3:45 of the second period to make it 5-1. He was crashing the slot when a shot by teammate Arron Asham hit the back of his legs and fell dead. Dupuis pounced on the puck and swatted it past Ottawa goaltender Alex Auld.
Although things were pretty mixed, Bylsma pointed to a couple of things he specifically wanted to look at -- Dupuis between wingers Kennedy and Matt Cooke as a shutdown third line, and Malkin playing with Jordan Staal.
The latter is something the Penguins have contemplated off and on for more than a year, but injuries and other situations have forestalled the look.
After the Penguins built the 5-1 lead, Ottawa's Jared Cowen scored at 15:46 of the second period during a delayed penalty to make it 5-2. Staal answered with a four-on-four goal to give the Penguins a 6-2 lead at 9:41 of the third period, and Erik Condra pulled the Senators to within 6-3 at 16:29 of the third period.
Things got a little rough in the third period. The somewhat surprising aspect in this game was Crosby's involvement. After Ottawa's Nick Foligno ran into Fleury a few times, Crosby responded by pushing and hitting Foligno in the Penguins crease, eventually getting a penalty for elbowing the winger in the head with Foligno getting a roughing call.
"Nothing nobody else would do," Crosby said. "You don't want guys to hit the goalie."
Joe Vitale later took an interference penalty for also going after Foligno, but it was Crosby who drew fiery words from Foligno.
"I fell over Fleury, and [Crosby] is hitting me, hitting me," Foligno said. "So I look up, I see it's him and [I'm] not going to do anything, and then he elbows me in the head and I just kind of got a little frustrated that he would do something like that, so I went back at him.
"It's not a big deal, but [hits to the head] is something that he preached all summer about that we should limit that and then he goes and does it, so I was just a little disappointed, but, you know, that's a small part of the game and it's over now."
First Published November 26, 2011 12:00 am