Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins (46-25-8) successfully began their three-game road trip to conclude the season, playing the Ottawa Senators (36-34-9). Although the Senators were eliminated from the playoffs Thursday, they played a perfect first half of the game but could not finish.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray looked to be a little rattled after giving up his second goal, and, shortly thereafter, Ottawa poured salt on the wound. But Murray would respond, like he has done frequently this season, by not giving the Senators anything else in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win.
Despite going down early, Pittsburgh struck back with five straight goals to seal the game, and the Penguins did not allow Ottawa to have a chance at its own comeback. Penguins left winger Carl Hagelin scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals, and he was the catalyst for Pittsburgh winning it season-best seven straight games.
The beginning of tonight’s game did not begin the way the Pittsburgh players and coach Mike Sullivan wanted. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith—some of Ottawa’s best shooters—were able to get the Senators on the board early.
Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist was able to score his 22nd goal of the season and get the ball rolling in what would be an electric comeback victory. Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby continued his point streak when he scored a goal with five minutes left in the second period and scored an empty netter with mere seconds left on the clock.
The Penguins’ offense sputtered coming out of the gates and did not generate many chances. In fact, the Senators were the first team since the Capitals on March 1st to out-shoot the Penguins. Pittsburgh, regardless picked up yet another five-goal win.
The youth on this Penguins team is somewhat of a mystery. While a typical rookie or young player might fold under the pressure or give up after incurring a multi-goal deficit, Pittsburgh’s young players are relentless.
Tonight’s game was a perfect example of the tenacity this roster possesses. Even though many of these players did not make it onto the score sheet, their ability to make good, snap-second decisions and the way they fed the puck to an open outlet was the cornerstone of tonight’s victory.
Hagelin took charge in this evening’s game and has been one of the Penguins’ hottest players. The 27-year-old winger has five points in his last five games (2 G, 3 A) and has been an active member on whatever line he plays.
Tonight’s victory only strengthens the notion that Pittsburgh is currently the NHL’s best team. The Penguins’ ability to finish games, whether they are winning or losing late, does not matter. Sullivan has lit a fire under his team, and it does not looks as if it is burning out any time soon.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel next on the road to face the first place team in the Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals. The game will take place this Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Image Credit: Getty Images