Sorry for the delay in getting to you guys today! A mix of computer issues and “day job” obligations derailed my day! Enjoy this piece that I did on last night’s game for versus.com… I will be back with more soon, including George Von Benko’s interview with the Doctor… Paul Coffey!
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The Penguins remained calm, cool and collected, while dealing with an outpouring of physicality from the Ottawa Senators last night at ScotiaBank Place. The Senators have seemingly decided that beating the Penguins up is the best way to beat them in the series, but the tactic that was so effective in game one no longer seems to be working.
“There were a couple of occasions when we could have gotten rattled … and we did a pretty good job of staying away from that stuff,” defenseman Brooks Orpik told the Tribune Review following the victory. “They saw (in Game 2) that when we play at our pace, they have a pretty hard time keeping up, so I think they want to slow it down with that stuff to give their defensive guys some rest.”
The defensemen that Orpik mentioned definitely have their hands full now, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have fought through the Senators and their tight checking style to take over the series. After notching two points a piece in last night’s 4-2 victory, the duo have combined for 12 points (5G-7A) in the first three games.
The Penguins also got a strong performance from goaltender Marc Andre Fleury, who stopped 20 shots in the win. Fleury seemed to find his groove and settle into the series for the first time after looking uncomfortable in the first two games. The victory pushes Fleury’s record in game 3s over the past three years to a sparking 8-1.
Another good thing for the Penguins was the fact that they picked up goals from both Bill Guerin and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Both players have drawn the ire of fans recently for their lack of production, especially Ponikarovsky who was the Penguins’ marquee trade acquisition at this year’s trade deadline.
Ponikarovsky, who had had a couple of sleepless nights worrying about his lack of production, opened the scoring for his team with a wrist shot from the right wing circle. He came into the zone, pulled up and let the shot fly, which squeaked through goaltender Brian Elliott.
“I just had to wait patiently, and by then guys were joining the rush,” Ponikarovsky told the Trib. “They were all taken, so I had to look at a shot.”
The Penguins picture has definitely gotten a lot rosier than it was following game one.
Back-to-back victories have them leading the series 2 games to 1 and many around the league are starting to believe that they have flipped the proverbial switch that everyone speculated about heading into the playoffs. For the Penguins sake, let’s hope that they are correct.
The Penguins and Senators reconvene for game four at ScotiaBank Place tomorrow night at 7:00pm.