The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a devastating 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Much like on Sunday in Philadelphia, the Penguins dominated the first period, outshooting the Senators 12-7 and jumping out to a big lead thanks to the inspired play of captain Sidney Crosby.
Just ten seconds into the contest, Crosby fired a slap shot past Ottawa’s rookie sensation, goaltender Andrew Hammond. It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Penguins have scored the opening goal, but they are just 1-3-1 over that stretch.
Later in the period, he took a ridiculous backhanded slap shot that Hammond had to make a diving save on and Patric Hornqvist shoveled in the rebound.
In between, Beau Bennett scored his first goal in 31 games on an assist from Ian Cole at 5:16 of the opening frame. Cole now has a five-game assist streak.
The Senators’ rally started with a pair of unfortunate bounces. With the Penguins on the power play, Derrick Pouliot made a play to keep an airborne puck in the offensive zone, but it carried just out of his reach. The Senators collected the puck and counter-attacked on 2-on-2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau attempted to make a cross-ice pass but it hit Pouliot’s skate and slid into the Penguins net.
At the end of the second period, with the Penguins again on the power play, bad luck struck again. Pouliot lined up a one-timer from the point but fanned on the shot and injured himself on the play. He left the game and did not return, leaving the Penguins with just five defensemen for the third period.
Just 34 seconds into the third period, Clarke MacArthur pounced on a Daniel Winnik turnover and fed Mark Stone, who finally beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot. Fleury was excellent throughout; making 40 saves in the losing effort.
The Penguins seemed like they may be able to hold on to the 3-2 advantage, but at 18:12 of the third period, Mike Hoffman beat Fleury on a wrist shot from the point after an offensive-zone faceoff. Fleury appeared to be screened by both Chris Kunitz and Ben Lovejoy on the play.
With a now-raucous Ottawa crowd roaring, the Penguins once again made a mental error. With just 30 seconds remaining, Lovejoy turned the puck over at the red line as the Penguins were changing behind him and the team was whistled for too-many men.
The Penguins penalty kill unit, victimized by Philadelphia on Sunday, was able to respond with a big kill to earn the Penguins a point as the game went to overtime. The PK unit finished 3-for-3 on the night.
At 2:43 of overtime, it was Stone again who was the thorn in the Penguins side as he came late on a 3-on-2 and Erik Karlsson found him in the slot, where he beat Fleury to win the game for the Senators.
The Penguins magic number fell from four to three, and with two games remaining, they still control their own destiny. They host the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center on Friday and visit the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
The Senators have two more road games left, both against teams with nothing to play for. They visit the New York Rangers – who won the President’s trophy on Tuesday night by beating the New Jersey Devils – on Thursday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
Photo credit: NHLI/Getty Images