The heavily-favoured, offensively-loaded Pittsburgh Penguins continued to showcase their dominant power-play and strong penalty kill in a 4-1 win in Game 1 over the Ottawa Senators.
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Power-play goals by Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz and a short-handed goal from Pascal Dupuis grabbed momentum from the Senators in all three periods.
The Penguins were once again outplayed for large parts of the game, similar to their first round series against the New York Islanders, but their world-class finish kept them in front.
As the Senators did in the first round, they started slow but improved as the game went on.
But the Penguins had much of the puck early and scored first. Martin's point shot hit Senators' defenceman Jared Cowen, finding its way off the right post and past Sens' goalie Craig Anderson.
Anderson was hard on himself post-game after giving up four goals on 30 shots. He and Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson both admitted the special teams was the difference in the game.
"If we want to have a good chance to win a game, we're going to have to shut down their special teams," said Anderson, who gave up more goals in Game 1 than at any time in Round 1.
"If we're able to kill those off, it's a different game and we're right there with them."
Senators head coach Paul MacLean also said his team needed to be "harder and faster."
"The good news is, we can do that," he said.
Eric Gryba leaves game with upper-body injury
It was a tough night for Cowen and his defence partner, Eric Gryba, before they were split up by head coach Paul MacLean in the second period.
With the score tied 1-1, Cowen gave the puck away to James Neal behind his own net, then failed to cover Evgeni Malkin who tapped in the go-ahead goal 12 minutes into the first period.
Then late in the second period, Gryba left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return after a check from Penguins' defenceman Brooks Orpik. Montreal Canadiens fans might have enjoyed that moment after Gryba knocked Habs' centre Lars Eller out of the playoffs in Game 1 of the first round.
The Senators struggled with the Penguins' skill in the offensive zone, but they also had more of the puck than Pittsburgh.
Once again, Ottawa was led by 20-year-old centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau. His forecheck led to the Senators' opening goal from Colin Greening, his first career NHL playoff goal, less than five minutes into the first period.
Special teams played a big role in Game 1. Ottawa failed to score on five power-play chances and gave up a short-handed goal to Pascal Dupuis in the third period.
The Penguins' power-play, meanwhile, scored twice on three chances. So far, Pittsburgh's power-play is the best in the NHL playoffs and their penalty kill is among the top three.
Karlsson has quiet return to Pittsburgh
Game 1 marked the first time Sens' star defenceman Erik Karlsson returned to Pittsburgh since he tore his Achilles' tendon in a collision with Pens' forward Matt Cooke. It was also the first meeting between the two players since that incident.
CBC Radio & TV
Look for daily updates from Dan Séguin on CBC TV starting at 5 p.m. ET, as well as Stu Mills on CBC Radio One, 91.5 FM in Ottawa.
Senators' centre Jason Spezza did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh and he is not expected to play in Game 2 Friday. Defenceman Patrick Wiercioch remains out with a lower-body injury.
Also on Tuesday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, made a wager on the second-round series.
Each wagered a case of local beer and a day wearing the opposition team's jersey. Ottawa is putting Kichesippi beer on the table, while Jacobson chose Iron City beer from Pittsburgh.