#54 Ottawa Senatorsvs.#53 Pittsburgh Penguins
Wednesday, May 5 2017, at 8:00pm EDT
Written by Valdis Pans
Pittsburgh Penguins (59-24-8-5) vs. Ottawa Senators (53-32-7-4)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Lines: Pittsburgh -136 / Ottawa +114
With the Eastern Conference Final tied at 1-1 after the first two contests in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Penguins will now travel to Canada to face the resilient Ottawa Senators for Games 3 and 4…
After a less than convincing performance in the 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins (59-24-13) stepped up considerably in the following outing two days later. Despite trailing 10-8 in shots after the first period, the hosts outshot the Sens 12-6 in the second and registered the first eight shots of the third, keeping Ottawa without a shot on goal for 18:53 minutes between the final two frames. The Penguins led the visitors in shots (29-23), hits (50-36) and faceoff wins (62%), delivering the only goal of the game through Phil Kessel (29 goals, 57 points in 60 post-season outings), who scored on his own rebound with 6:55 left in the third period, thus snapping a three-game point-drought.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 62-50 in past playoff fixtures with a 2.62 GAA and a .909 save percentage, made 23 saves for his second shutout in the past three starts. He has now gone 9-5 for the current post-season with a 2.32 GAA and a .931 save percentage, allowing just two goals in his past three contests. The Penguins, meanwhile, are scoring the 2nd highest quantity of goals per game during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (3.07), giving up the 6th lowest amount defensively (2.36). They are 7th in power play with an 18.6% success rate (8-for-43) and rank 10th in penalty kill with 81.6% efficiency (31-for-38). Pittsburgh could, however, come into Wednesday without Bryan Rust (11 goals, 14 points in 37 post-season fixtures) and Justin Schultz (2 goals, 12 points in 29 playoff appearances), who got injured in the first period of Game 2, as well as without Patric Hornqvist (18 goals, 31 points in 66 post-season outings), who remains a game-time decision.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Monday didn’t quite go to plan for the Ottawa Senators (53-32-11), who saw their early 1-0 series lead cancelled out by the current Stanley Cup holders. It was a great night for both goalies, with Ottawa’s Craig Anderson (21-19 in his playoff career with a 2.32 GAA and a .929 save percentage) once again showing great composure right until 13:05 minutes into the final third, when the Penguins scored the only marker of the contest. Anderson, who has now gone 9-5 for the current post-season with a 2.28 GAA and a .920 save percentage, admitted after the game that he was unable to save the shot due to him catching an edge with his skate in the ice.
Unfortunately for Ottawa, the team’s offense had also gone out of the window, with the Senators being shut out for the first time in 36 overall contests, dating back to the 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 24. Kyle Turris (12 goals, 23 points in 41 playoff fixtures) and Cody Ceci (no goals, 3 points in 20 post-season appearances) led the Senators with most shots on goal (3). However, the fact, that Ottawa spent almost 19 consecutive minutes without a shot on goal throughout the final two periods, didn’t really help matters. The Senators are 8th in most goals scored per game during the current post-season (2.57), 7th in least goals given up on average (2.50), 3rd worst in power play with a 13.6% return (6-for-44) and 4th best in penalty kill with 89.1% proficiency (41-for-46).
The Penguins are yet to rediscover their offensive touch, scoring just two goals in the two games played so far against the Senators, netting just eight in their last five contests (that’s 1.60 per outing). The Pens have, however, found the back of the net 22 times on their six travels so far during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (3.67 per game), while Ottawa has conceded 18 markers in its six post-season fixtures on own ice (3.00 per contest). The Senators have constantly had surprises up their sleeve during the ongoing playoffs. But you can bet the Penguins, who have won three of their past four road matchups, will not be lacking in motivation…
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Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray’s shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members’ birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...