Kennedy scores in OT to beat Senators
Gerber shaky in goal for Ottawa as Pittsburgh strikes first
Too many penalties, too many giveaways, soft goaltending.
Yep, the Ottawa Senators are back for another year.
Jason Spezza gave the puck away to Tyler Kennedy in the final minute of overtime and the Pittsburgh forward fired one past the blocking hand of goalie Martin Gerber to give the Penguins a 4-3 victory over the Senators on Saturday night in Stockholm.
It was the opening game of the National Hockey League season for both clubs, part of a two-game set that will continue Sunday(2:30 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).
Kennedy picked up his second goal of the game by stealing the puck off Spezza at his own blue-line after the Senators' star had basically tried to lug the puck through the entire team rather than just dump it in.
Racing back the other way, Kennedy fired one from the circle with defender Jason Smith's stick possibly giving the puck a bit of a launching pad and it sailed by Gerber for the goal.
"I just got a chip up the ice and tried to put it on net, and I squeaked it by the short side," Kennedy told CBC Sports after a game that also saw him score the opening goal in the season's opening minute on another one Gerber should have had.
"You make so many commitments to come here [to Europe for the season opener] and it's always nice to get a win in the first game."
Can't hold the lead
Working out hard during the off-season paid off for Kennedy.
"I think I worked hard in the summer and drew confidence out of that," Kennedy said. "So I came into the season with confidence."
Ottawa led this one 3-2 in the third period despite taking five first-period penalties and allowing a pair of two-man advantages.
But the defending Eastern Conference champs tied the game 3-3 on a play orchestrated by Sidney Crosby, who took advantage of a turnover to attack the other way.
Coming over the blue-line, he feathered a hard pass through a tangle of legs all the way over to defenceman Rob Scuderi who fired a wrist shot past Gerber on the glove side at 3:56.
Gerber, who had tracked over with more than enough time, seemed to fan on the puck a bit as it went by. It was Scuderi's third NHL goal.
"I thought we played hard and competed hard for 65 minutes," said Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg. "We did a lot of good things … we have to be a little bit smarter."
Penalty killers kept Senators in game
Excellent Ottawa penalty killing held what could have been an early blow-out to a 1-1 tie after the first period.
A lack of discipline gave the Penguins those five consecutive power plays — including a two-man advantage for 38 seconds — but they could not take advantage of it, despite using snipers Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the point.
Pittsburgh had opened the scoring at the 40-second mark when Kennedy circled behind the net and brought it out to the right of Gerber, who seemed to lose track of his position and left a big hole between his blocker and the post. Kennedy filled that hole with the rubber and the Pens led 1-0.
The Senators evened things before the 10-minute mark on a play that began along the half-boards in the Pittsburgh zone.
Winger Dean McAmond fired one towards the Penguins' net that Shean Donovan was able to pick up and fire past Marc-André Fleury for a 1-1 tie.
Senators come alive
Pittsburgh went up 2-1 in the second off another Ottawa turnover, this time while on the power play.
An attempted fire-in off the stick of the Senators' Filip Kuba hit Malkin and allowed him to take off alone. He came in on Gerber, made a nifty deke and while losing his balance backhanded it into the Ottawa goal for a 2-1 lead at 3:18 of the middle frame.
Ottawa came back to tie again thanks in large part to Chris Neil, who wasn't on the ice at the time.
The big winger had dished out a solid check to get his teammates' interest up, and on the ensuing face off he jawed away with Eric Godard so effectively the Penguins' enforcer took a hooking penalty once the puck dropped.
On the power play, Spezza put a puck out front for Dany Heatley, who showed what soft hands can do by taking the bouncing puck off his backhand, deftly moving it to the forehand and whipping it by Fleury for 2-2 at 12:15.
Then, on another Pittsburgh power play, Spezza took advantage of a tiring and pinching Malkin to steal the puck and take off on a two-on-one.
He wasn't going to pass on this one, however. He raced in to the circle left of Fleury and fired in the go-ahead goal at 17:55 to make it 3-2 Ottawa into the third.
NHL free agent Mats Sundin, who helped Sweden win the 2006 Olympic gold medal and is a Stockholm native, drew the biggest cheers when he dropped the puck during a ceremonial faceoff before the game.
With files from the Associated Press