Post-Round 1 Thoughts
Pascal Dupuis series clinching OT winner Saturday night showed that the Penguins still have that “killer instinct” in them, which led to a Stanley Cup title in 2009. It also showed the character that the Penguins have as Ottawa dominated play for the first 30 minutes of the game and were on their way to forcing a game 7 in Pittsburgh
Trailing 3-0 at the 10-minute mark in the second period, all of the pressure was suddenly on Pittsburgh who were heavy favorites in the series and it was their role players not Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin that fueled a thrilling 4-3 comeback to secure a spot in the second round of the playoffs.
“We had to keep responding and we got tested for sure and you saw the quality of our team and the character of our team,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Sidney had a great series, but in the end…. in a game like this, it was not just our star players.”
Matt Cooke scored two goals and Bill Guerin scored a third period power play goal as Dupuis capped off the comeback in overtime.
On a night where Sidney Crosby was held pointless and Evgeni Malkin was limited to an assist, Pittsburgh’s third line delivered with a clutch game and their best game of the series.
Cooke, Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis combined for 3 goals and 3 assists in the game.
Cooke and Staal came into game 6 with a combined plus/minus rating of minus-10 and Staal was producing little offensively.
Staal stepped up with two assists on the night and beat a defender in the corner setting up Dupuis for the game winner.
“Jordan made an unbelievable play there in the corner, beat one guy,” Dupuis said. “I thought he was going to give it to me right away….. He’s strong enough that he decided to beat another one by himself and he slid it to me there.”
More consistent play from the Penguins third line is crucial to the Penguins chances of defending their title.
With Tyler Kennedy out of the lineup due to a knee injury, the opportunity for Pascal Dupuis to become a regular on Jordan Staal’s right wing will continue to be explored going into the next round.
Kennedy though was not playing well prior to his injury and was a minus-3 in four games with 0 points and only 3 shots on goal.
When or if Kennedy returns to the lineup, it is not a guarantee that Kennedy will re-gain his spot on the third line, if the staff looks to move forward with a 2nd line of Alexei Ponikarovsky – Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot.
By The Numbers
*Pittsburgh had 12 different goal scorers in the series, led by Sidney Crosby’s 5 goals in the series.
*Sidney Crosby (5 goals-8 assists) and Evgeni Malkin (4 goals-4 assists) combined for 22 points in the series. Crosby was held pointless Saturday night, for the first time in the playoffs since Game 7 of last season’s Stanley Cup final.
*The Senators duo of Daniel Alfredsson (2 goals – 6 assists) and Jason Spezza (1 goal – 6 assists) combined for 15 points in the series. Both players got off to slow stars but came on strong near the end of the series.
*The Ottawa Senators had a combined 67 blocked shots in the final two games of the series.
*Through 6 games, Marc Andre Fleury is 4-2 in the playoffs with a 2.75 GAA and .890 save percentage.
*The first round series was a role reversal for Pittsburgh when it came to their special teams. Pittsburgh was 25% on the power play and a lowly 68.2 % on the penalty kill.
*The Penguins were under 50% on face-offs in the series, but Sidney Crosby was strong in the face-off circle, winning 57.5% of his draws.
*Bill Guerin quietly had 6 points (2goals-4assists) in the series.
Pittsburgh had an off-day on Sunday and will also have an off-day on Monday. The team will return to the ice Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m.
The Penguins await on who will be their second round opponent.
In the Eastern Conference, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Philadelphia have advanced to the second round. In the Western Conference, No. 1 San Jose and No. 3 Vancouver have secured their spots in the second round.
Second round scenarios still exist for the Penguins where they could play No. 7 Philadelphia, No. 3 Buffalo or No. 6 Boston.
No.1 Washington leads has a 3-2 series lead over No. 8 Montreal, while No. 6 Boston holds a 3-2 series lead over No. 3 Buffalo.
Both teams will look to close out their series’ Monday night.
If Washington advances, Pittsburgh will play Buffalo or Boston in the second round.
If Montreal and Buffalo advance, Pittsburgh will meet the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs for the third straight year.
The second round will not begin until Thursday at the earliest.