Ruutu's goal gives Penguins win in shootout
Sidney Crosby and Ryan Malone celebrate Malone's first-period goal last night in Ottawa. The Penguins overcame two-goal deficits to win in a shootout.
Share with others:
OTTAWA -- For what has stretched into weeks, the Penguins have been looking for a way to validate their effort, a game to remind them why they deserve to be called a club with a bright future.
They couldn't do it at home, going 1-2-1 on a just-completed homestand.
They couldn't do it against their Atlantic Division rivals, going 2-6-1 in their previous nine games, all division contests.
No, the Penguins picked the Eastern Conference-leading Senators, the team that schooled them by rolling to a five-game win in the teams' first-round playoff series in April, the team that until last night had not lost two games in a row this season.
The Penguins came back twice from two-goal deficits in a 6-5 shootout win in front of a sellout crowd of 20,061 at Scotiabank Place.
Jarkko Ruutu scored the deciding goal in the fifth round. The 10th shooter, he slid the puck under Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber.
"This was a character check to see if we have what it takes to come back," defenseman Mark Eaton said.
The Penguins erased the two, two-goal holes quickly, getting goals 18 seconds apart in the first period and 1:11 apart in the third.
Winger Ryan Malone scored two goals for the Penguins, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar tied the score, 5-5.
"It builds confidence when you can come back like that," Ruutu said. "Now we have to build on that."
Both teams were coming off losses Wednesday night. The Penguins had lost five of their past seven and seven of their past 10.
Linemates Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley -- reunited one night earlier after coach John Paddock split them up last week -- accounted for three goals for Ottawa.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury lasted only about half a period and got yanked for Dany Sabourin after giving up two goals on the Senators' first four shots. It turned out, the game's scoring had just begun.
After spotting the Senators two goals in the first period, the Penguins pulled even with two quick goals.
Evgeni Malkin took the puck at center ice, beat rookie Ottawa center and fellow Russian Alexander Nikulin just inside the blue line for a short breakaway and slipped the puck past Gerber to make it 2-1 at 18:07. That extended Malkin's points streak to 14 games, longest current string in the NHL.
Malone evened the game when he scored from the right hash marks at 18:25 after taking a pass from Sidney Crosby, who had his 19-game points streak halted Wednesday.
The Penguins took their first lead of the game at 8:00 of the second period when Tyler Kennedy threw the puck at the net from the top of the left circle and beat a frozen Gerber on the far side.
The Senators took back the lead with goals 1:55 apart later in the second.
Spezza, to the right of Sabourin, beat him after collecting a partially fanned shot by Alfredsson at 13:20 to make it 3-3.
Heatley's power-play goal from the slot, set up by Alfredsson, gave Ottawa a 4-3 lead at 16:15.
Ottawa increased its lead to 5-3 at 1:04 of the third when Christoph Schubert redirected in a pass from Andrej Meszaros.
The Penguins then staged another two-goal onslaught, this one in 1:11, when Malone poked in a loose puck behind Gerber in the crease at 5:56 on a power play and Gonchar tied it at 7:07.
That's where it remained through overtime.
"It was a huge win for us," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "No one got down when we were behind. It turned out great for us."
Ruutu cost the Penguins a power-play goal in the first period with the second of two diving penalties but redeemed himself in the shootout.
First Published November 23, 2007 12:00 am