Game 2: Malone’s late game-winner rescues Penguins
He’ll remember this one the rest of his life.
Pittsburgh’s own Ryan Malone picked a perfect time to score his first playoff goal — with 1:02 remaining in regulation — and helped the Penguins avoid repeating recent history with a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series at Mellon Arena.
Malone added an empty-net goal at 19:53 to secure a 2-0 lead for the Penguins in this best-of-7 series. Game 3 is Monday in Ottawa.
“We never thought about losing the game,” Malone said after the Penguins blew a 3-0 lead against the Senators at home for the second time in six weeks. The Senators rallied from that deficit to win, 4-3, on Feb. 23.
“We had a little letdown, but we learned from it,” forward Max Talbot said. “It was definitely a relief (when Malone scored).”
Malone’s winning goal came on a power play – the result of a late high stick penalty assessed to Ottawa right wing Martin Lapointe at 18:46.
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray was not pleased his club was called for nine penalties. The Penguins were 3 for 6 on the power play after going 1 for 5 in Game 1.
“We played great hockey,” captain Sidney Crosby said following a four-assist performance. “It probably shouldn’t have been that close, but we deserved it.”
Crosby and right wing Marian Hossa assisted on each of Malone’s goals to somewhat steal center Evgeni Malkin’s thunder.
Game 1: Penguins 4, Ottawa 0 (Penguins lead, 1-0)
Game 2: Penguins 5, Ottawa 3 (Penguins lead, 2-0)
Game 3: April 14, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Place
Game 4: April 16, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Place
Game 5: April 19, TBD, Mellon Arena
Game 6: April 20, TBD, Scotiabank Place
Game 7: April 22, TBD, Mellon Arena
Malkin assisted on right wing Petr Sykora’s second and third goals of the series and defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s first. Malkin has six points through two games after recording only four against Ottawa in a 2007 first-round series won by the Senators in five contests.
“I don’t want to prove anything,” Malkin said. “I just want my team to win as many games as we can.”
The Penguins had outshot the Senators, 31-13, when Sykora tallied his second of the game to put his club ahead, 3-0, at 10:52 of the second period.
However, former Penguins’ forward Shean Donovan scored for the first time in 48 games only 33 seconds later to pull Ottawa within 3-1.
That goal snapped goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s series-opening shutout streak at 91:25.
Stunningly, the Penguins entered the second intermission with only a 3-2 lead after Ottawa left wing Cory Stillman’s goal at 16:11.
The Penguins entered the third period with a 40-19 shots lead. But Ottawa center Cody Bass completed a stunning comeback with a goal at 8:51 of the third period.
“Everything was going pretty well,” Fleury said. “Everybody was relaxed. Then, it got tense.
“When you have a three-goal lead, it’s tough when the other team comes back. But that’s hockey. You have to expect it.”
The Penguins finished with 54 shots, a franchise playoff record. Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber was valiant in turning aside 49.
Fleury made 27 saves. His save percentage through two games is .950 — consistent with his performance since returning Feb. 28 from a lengthy absence due to a high right ankle sprain.
Malone assisted on Sykora’s second goal. He has four points in the series, compared to none against the Senators in the 2007 playoffs.
He paced the Penguins with six points during the four-game regular-season series against Ottawa.
“This was a great feeling,” Malone said, lamenting that his wife and newborn son watched the game last night from his offseason home in Minnesota. “Playoff hockey – you always want to score the winner.
“But now we have to get ready for Game 3 and move on.”
Click here to launch.