Frustrations in Ottawa are brewing over the lack of production from Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson in the Senators best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Alfredsson and Spezza have zero goals in the series, while Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have combined for 5 goals in three games.
With key losses to Alexei Kovalev and Milan Michalek on their top-2 lines, Ottawa has struggled mightily at creating offense at even strength.
Prior to the series, many thought Spezza and Alfreddson would have to match Crosby and Malkin for the Senators to have any shot at knocking off the defending champs and injuries to their top-6 has given Pittsburgh the ability to put all of their focus on the Senators top line of Peter Regin – Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.
Regin has stepped up his game and has been Ottawa’s best forward but Spezza has been limited and Alfredsson is showing signs of age.
With Pittsburgh appearing to be in command of the series, star power has won out through the first three games of the series.
Post-Game 3 Observations
-* In reviewing the tape of game 3, Pittsburgh was very good in moving the puck up quickly to avoid the Senators aggressive fore-check, which led to a number of odd-man breaks.
In a game that had 82 hits, long passing lanes opened up for Pittsburgh to be opportunistic in the game. Pittsburgh countered the Senators aggressive game plan very well.
-* Alexei Ponikarovsky’s first period goal in Sunday’s game was off of a set breakout play that the Penguins work on regularly in practice.
Sergei Gonchar moved the puck up to Pascal Dupuis who tapped the puck off the boards leading to a odd-man break for Ponikarovsky.
-* The pairing of Erik Karlsson and Andy Sutton were a combined minus-4 in the game. Karlsson has performed very well in the series but is young and prone to mistakes in the defensive zone.
Pittsburgh feels that a Malkin or Crosby matchup against that pairing favors them.
-* Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was a bit too aggressive during the first period of Sunday’s game. Orpik missed Daniel Alfredsson with an open ice hit, which led to an odd-man rush the other way and Orpik was too aggressive on Peter Regin’s disallowed goal when he left the front of the net to chase Jason Spezza behind the net.
-* The turning point in game 3 was Nick Foligno’s missed shot in the second period on a 2-on-1 opportunity with Mike Fisher. Foligno had a wide open goal and shot it wide as Fleury was sliding over. The Penguins went the other way and scored to make it 2-1.
Senators head coach Cory Clouston pointed to the Penguins making good on their opportunities as being the difference.
“It’s a game of mistakes, ” Clouston said. We only gave up nine or 10 scoring chances and just over 20 shots. We had our opportunities. They made their mistakes, they made good of their opportunities — to me, that was the biggest difference.”