Penguins teach Senators lesson in special teams | Hockey | CBC Sports

Playoffs 2013Penguins teach Senators lesson in special teams

Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 11:51 PM

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Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis celebrates a short-handed goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press) Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis celebrates a short-handed goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins had another night to remember on special teams in their second-round series opener, a 4-1 win at home against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators played well enough, but know they have plenty of room for improvement.
PITTSBURGH -- Inspirational speeches, video sessions and team meetings are fine and dandy tools to prepare for the stylish Pittsburgh Penguins.

But you really have to lace up the skates and get out there to experience how this Penguins engine can hum. The Ottawa Senators experienced first hand how swiftly the Penguins can score in their East semifinal opener, dropping a 4-1 defeat to Sidney Crosby and his friends at the Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

The outing wasn't a total bust for the Senators. They just may have been better than the Penguins in five-on-five play. They have something to build on in the next 72 hours before Game 2 on Friday night (CBC, CBCSports, 7:30 p.m. ET).

The difference was special teams. The Penguins went 2-for-4 on the power play. The Senators went 0-for-five, and yielded a third-period short-handed goal to Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis, who now leads the Stanley Cup playoffs with six goals in seven games.

"We only took three minor penalties in the game and they took advantage of two of them," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said. "That's to their credit. Obviously their power play is clicking at 33 per cent, so we can't do that.

"The difference of the game is obviously the execution of their power play, and giving up a short-handed goal accentuates our special-teams play much more."

The Penguins had the second best power play during the regular season behind the Washington Capitals, and has the most efficient in playoffs, going 9-for-25. Even the Senators, who were the best penalty-killing team in the league during the regular season, know they can't give their playoff foes too many man-advantage situations in this series

When you have talent like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Brenden Morrow and Kris Letang to throw out there on two power-play units, there are going to be goals scored.

"They have one of the best power plays in the playoffs," said Ottawa first-liner Cory Conacher, who may have been the best Senator on Tuesday. "You want to play hard and you want to play physical. But we don't want to give them these opportunities."

With the exception of a few players like captain Daniel Alfredsson and tough-guy Chris Neil, as well as veteran defencemen Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips, Ottawa has a young team. The Senators exhibited maturity beyond their years in their opening-round five-game series win against the rival Montreal Canadiens.

Jittery Senators

They were jittery in the first few shifts. Kyle Turris took a high-sticking penalty on Dupuis just 72 seconds into the game, and 1:29 later Penguins defenceman Paul Martin ripped a point shot that deflected off Ottawa blue-liner Jared Cowen.

The Senators responded for a tying goal from Colin Greening, a softy that Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun allowed. But the young Senators defence pairing of Cowen and Eric Gryba, who left the game after a hard second-period hit from Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik, got in trouble later in the opening period in their own end. Kunitz found Malkin in front for the go-ahead goal and the Penguins never looked back.

Now the Senators have to learn from their mistakes. The biggest area for improvement will be team speed. The Senators have to find another gear to move the puck up the ice better and also to get in on the forecheck and make life more difficult for the Penguins' defence.

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Pens D had easy night

The Pittsburgh defencemen had an easy night making those stretch passes to their forwards. In the first round, the Islanders gave the Penguins fits at times with their speed and work ethic. They made the Penguins play too much in their own end. The Senators need to find another gear to do the same.

"They were a bit quicker than us in the first," MacLean said. "In the second, it was much better to our liking and didn't get enough out of it

"We need to be harder and a little bit quicker. We have the ability to do that. Now it's up to us to make it a series."

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