Ottawa (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1)
When: Monday, May 15th 2017
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports Network
The Ottawa Senators are getting huge contributions from a couple of guys who had sub-par regular season campaigns and will look to take a commanding lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night. Bobby Ryan, who had a career-worst point total of 25 during the regular season, broke in alone on Marc-Andre Fleury and deeked the Pittsburgh goalie before flipping a backhand into the open net 4:59 into overtime to give visiting Ottawa a 2-1 victory in Game 1. The Senators improved to an impressive 6-1 when pushed beyond regulation during the postseason and take home ice away from the Penguins for now. “There’s a lot of things to like, but it’s just one game,” coach Guy Boucher said, “We won’t get too excited.” Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s one-timer in the first period Saturday gave the 24-year-old seven of his team-leading eight postseason goals in his last six games, this on the heels of scoring only 12 while playing in all 82 regular-season games. Pageau set up Ryan’s overtime winner to give Ottawa six wins in the extra session, pushing the club one shy of matching the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes and 2003 Anaheim (then-Mighty) Ducks and four behind the 1993 Montreal Canadiens for most during a playoff season.
The Penguins showed signs of a hangover from a brutal seven-game series with bitter-rival Washington in the semifinals. Evgeni Malkin’s goal late in the third period forced overtime, but Pittsburgh struggled to generate any consistent pressure on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. The problem wasn’t Ottawa’s neutral zone trap designed to slow down teams but a decided lack of aggression once Malkin, captain Sidney Crosby and company crossed the Senators’ blue line. The Penguins managed only 17 shots in 5-on-5 situations, compared to 32 by Ottawa. Pittsburgh also gave it away 17 times, two of which led to goals. Pittsburgh defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta came under fire for their roles in Ottawa’s goals as the former’s decision to reverse the puck on a breakout led to Pageau’s goal while the latter was beaten on a sprint to the net by Ryan in overtime. Pittsburgh is 5-0 in Game 2 of a series dating back to last season’s Stanley Cup run.
I fully expect the Penguins to come out with more fire and passion in Game 2. They haven’t seen much of Ottawa this season and they’ll make the adjustments they need to put more pressure on net. I’ll take the puckline again.
Pick: Penguins -1.5 +155
HEAD TO HEAD
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