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Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
PITTSBURGH — The regular season was a bundle of frustration for Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan. He was snakebitten. He was hurt. He’s exorcizing all of that in the playoffs.
“It felt great obviously to come through in an important and crucial moment,” Ryan said Saturday night after he scored at 4:59 of overtime to give the Senators a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final at PPG Paints Arena.
Ottawa carried a one-goal lead on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s score through most of the game before Evgeni Malkin tied it late in regulation.
Ryan had 13 goals and a career-low 25 points in 62 games during the season. He now has five goals and 10 points in 13 playoff games.
“When you’re an offensive player and you’re doing all the right things but you’re not finishing and that’s what it was with Bobby … he just wasn’t finishing and it gets to be a mental block and you start thinking you’re not doing the right things,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “For me, now it’s the finishing part.”
On Saturday’s winner, Ryan, who earlier had an assist, came out of a tangle along the right-wing boards after getting the puck from Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta for a short breakaway and roofed a shot past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I was kind of lucky that the puck found me,” Ryan said. “When you get in there, you look for some kind of move. I felt fortunate it found the net.”
Fleury finished with 33 saves. Craig Anderson made 27 saves for the Senators, who improved to 6-1 in overtime in the playoffs. The Penguins are 1-1 in overtime.
“For the most part, we find that the most fun,” Ottawa center Kyle Turris said of going to overtime. “Playoffs, it’s so much fun. It’s a blast. The regular season is great, but the playoffs is why you play hockey. I think every kid dreams about playing overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s the most fun part of the game.”
Game 2 is Monday night in Pittsburgh. This is the fifth playoff series between the teams. Pittsburgh has won three of four and three in a row.
The Penguins started the night leading the playoffs with 41 goals, an average of 3.4 per game. They also have the leading scorer in the playoffs in Malkin, whose goal was gave him 18 points, and four of the top seven.
But Ottawa stood firm through more than two periods and killed off all five Pittsburgh power plays during regulation.
“(Anderson is) a good goalie,” Malkin said. “He’s tall, big. He has confidence right now. We need to score a little bit more (against) him for sure because one goal is not good enough for our team.”
Pittsburgh had 5:50 of power-play time in the first period, including 45 seconds of five-on-three play.
“We had an opportunity to grab a lead,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We didn’t execute. The movement wasn’t there. The passes weren’t crisp.”
It was Ottawa that scored first. From behind the Penguins’ net after a turnover by Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin, Ryan sent a soft backhander out front to Pageau, who one-timed the puck past the glove of Fleury at 14:32. It was Pageau’s eighth goal, one behind playoff leader Jake Guentzel of Pittsburgh. Pageau had 12 goals during the regular season. Malkin tied it 1-1 at 14:25 of the third on a tip-in from Chris Kunitz for his 19th point. It also lifted Malkin past Jaromir Jagr into third place on Pittsburgh’s career playoff points list with 148. That ruined Anderson’s shot at his second shutout of the playoffs, but it didn’t deter the Senators.
“After the third period, we come in (the locker room) and no one’s edgy,” winger Clarke MacArthur said. “We’re used to it, playing the full season with all these close games. I don’t know what it is. We’ve waited for chances.
“A little turnover and an opportunity and we were able to capitalize. It’s great for Bobby.”
NOTES: Pittsburgh LW Carl Hagelin (lower body) and D Trevor Daley (lower body) missed the game, and RW Tom Kuhnhackl was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … For Ottawa, LW Viktor Stallberg (lower body) remained out and RW Chris Neil was scratched after playing two games in a row. They were replaced by LW Ryan Dzingel and C Tommy Wingels
ANAHEIM – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The Anaheim Ducks say they’re ready to put a loss in the opener of the Western Conference final in the rearview mirror. They’ll need that mindset because the Nashville Predators have spent much of the postseason with their foot on the gas and are not willing to let up now.
The Ducks will try to avoid an 0-2 hole for the second consecutive series when they face off against the Predators on Sunday night at the Honda Center. Anaheim advanced out of the second round after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 on Wednesday night, and faced a quick turnaround two nights later against a Nashville team that hadn’t played since Sunday.
The Ducks were outshot 46-29 for the game and dropped a 3-2 decision when James Neal scored 9:24 into overtime.
“This time of year you can’t have excuses,” Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm told the Orange County Register. “You just have to go out there and play hard and win games. That’s what it’s all about. … You have to start from the get-go.”
Coach Randy Carlyle noted that the Ducks got off to a sluggish start — they were outshot 15-6 in the first period — and that cannot happen again.
“I don’t think that we can afford to have the start that we had today,” Carlyle told the newspaper. “If you took the first period, we were pretty inept in what we were doing. … We’ll turn the page on this one. Get ourselves prepared for Sunday (night).”
After sweeping the Calgary Flames in the opening round of the playoffs, the Ducks lost the first two games in their matchup with Edmonton. Nate Thompson said
Anaheim should not overlook the Predators, who proved their success during this postseason is no fluke.
Nashville stunned the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks by sweeping them in the opening round before eliminating the St. Louis Blues in six games in the second round. The Predators are 9-2 in the postseason, scoring 31 goals and allowing only 16, and have won Game 1 on the road in all three series.
“They’re an aggressive team that can skate. They’re a good hockey club, and it’s going to be a tough series,” Thompson said.
The win shifted home-ice advantage to the Predators and a deeper look shows that’s bad news for Anaheim, which doesn’t want to head east in what could be a must-win situation. Nashville is 5-0 at Bridgestone Arena this postseason thanks in large part to Pekka Rinne, who’s knocked aside 141 of 147 shots for a .959 save percentage.
Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm told the NHL’s official website that the team likes the position it’s in, but can’t ease up either.
“You get some momentum right away, for sure,” Ekholm said. “It’s a nice feeling for everyone in here, for sure. And (Sunday) is going to be a lot easier. You get a smile on your face, and it’s really a good feeling.
“But we know we haven’t done nothing yet. We have to stay on for Game 2, and we know now we’ll have that home-ice advantage again. We’re really comfortable on home ice and on the road, and it’s a good feeling to get the first one.”
Facing Anaheim in the opening round last season, Nashville took the first two games in Southern California, but needed to win a seventh game to advance. The Predators lost in seven games to the San Jose Sharks in the second round.
This season, coach Peter Laviolette’s team has received goals from 15 players, led by Neal, fellow forward Filip Forsberg and defensemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi with four each.
“We’re just confident in our group,” forward Austin Watson told the Tennessean after his goal early in the second period of Game 1 gave the Predators a 2-1 lead.
“We’ve got 20 guys in here on a nightly basis during the game that can play and contribute.”
Anaheim continues to rely mainly on Ryan Getzlaf to carry the offense and he hasn’t been up to the task recently. The Ducks’ captain has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in the postseason, but more than half — four goals and four assists — came in Games 3 through 5 against Edmonton.
The Ducks have managed five goals over their last three games.
Getzlaf is trying to avoid being held without a point in four straight playoff games for the first time since 2007 against the Vancouver Canucks. Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Nashville