2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 1: Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @ Mellon Arena
"Time to Go" was the song I listented to before the first puck-drop of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And boy was it perfect for the start of the NHL's second season.
A little bit more scoring than I would've preferred, but I couldn't complain about it. The tempo was great and not a real moment to be bored with (unless you were a Penguins fan).
The towels were waving at Mellon Arena, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were making it hard for the Ottawa Senators. First great scoring chance was for the Penguins, and it was a great chance missed. Ottawa's Brian Elliott made the first save, but scrambled after the rebound. That scramble left a wide open net that could've led to an early goal. And that told you what kind of game this one was going to be.
Early into the game, there were the goals we knew these teams could put up. A powering goal from Evgeni Malkin stated it all, but the 1-down sens didn't take that as something to get hung up over. They came right back with two goals of their own before the end of 20, heading into the changing room with a confidence that could not be taken away.
And the Sens continued to make the upset in the second period. A mess up by Marc-Andre Fleury that should not have happened led to Chris Kelly converting a goal that was all too easy for him to have. Good thing happen to those who work for it, and after being nervous for about 5 minutes, the Sens started to get comfortable and took over the game.
But sticking true to their Stanley Cup title, there is no giving up in the sport of hockey. Evgeni Malkin stayed true to his title last year, too, and continued to rack up the points. Geno plays a big game, and that big game brought his team into one once more. Like a lot of Russians, he slotted the puck into the high corner, glove-side and beat Elliott.
Remember how I put some emphasis on Erik Karlsson's game? Well, like I've said before, he was good at the blue on the PP. And on their PP, Karlsson scored his first NHL playoff goal with a rocket up at the blue. There hasn't been much I could complain about him tonight. He hasn't been spectacular, yeah, but he hasn't played that high risk game that he plays some nights. In other words, he hasn't looked as vunerable as he was exposed as during the regular season.
The Penguins finally woke up in the final 20 minutes of the game. They brought themselves within one, but that was blown when Ottawa came back with another goal.
Ottawa found their game earlier than the Pens and found comfort in the Igloo. A home team may love their home ice, but once an away team finds comfort in a different arena, there is a confidence that is intangible. Now that there is a win under their fight belts, Ottawa will be coming strong for the next one and play probably a better game than they did tonight.
The Penguins need to find themselves. They need to play a simple, gritty game and stop looking for the pretty goals. Pittsburgh has huge bodies that are excellent scorers. Use them to get in front of Elliott, plow through the zone, and play a physical game (without getting hurt). And Fleury needs to find his game again. He looked uncomfortable in net tonight and was found scrambling for more than he should.
Ultimately, Ottawa just wanted it more than Pittsburgh. That resulted in a win for the 5th seed over the 4th.