Game Preview: Game 1, Round 2 Sens @ Pens

sens_at_pens_playoffPens lead the all-time regular season series 45-29-11. As well, the Pens are 2-1 in all-time playoff series and own a 9-6 record in those contests.

In three meetings this season, Pittsburgh won all three while sweeping the season series for the first time since the 1995-1996 season.

On this date, May 14th, Pittsburgh has only played twice in its history. The first, 1993, was one of the worst days in the franchise’s history. In Game 7 versus the New York Islanders, David Volek netted the overtime winner to end the Pens season and a chance at a third consecutive Stanley Cup. Two years later, Pittsburgh defeated the Washington Capitals by a 6-5 count and would go on to win that series.

Coach Dan Bylsma has coached in 9 series going 6-3 with a 32-24 record. He advanced his team beyond the first round for the first time since 2010.

In Game One of the playoffs, Pittsburgh has a 25-28 record, but is now 18-12 at home.

Stats to Know

By scoring the OT winner of Game 6 versus the Isles on Saturday, Brooks Orpik collected the first game-winner of his career. So now, after 709 regular and post-season games, he has one game winner to go along with his one power play goal scored October 8, 2008 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Evgeni Malkin’s 11 points places him second to Boston’s David Krecji in playoff scoring. Pascal Dupuis’ 5 goals is tied with Krecji and Chicago’s Patrick Sharp for first.

Other than Chris Kunitz who had five during the regular season, the list of game-winning heroes has been unlikely at best through the first round against the Isles. Game-winners were scored by Beau Bennett, Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy and Brooks Orpik. There’s always something to be said about secondary scoring, particularly in the playoffs.

Daniel Alfredsson is the all-time leader in points against Pittsburgh in Ottawa Senators history. In 64 career games, he has 22 goals and 42 assists giving him an average of one point per game with a +12 rating. Jason Spezza, who has begun skating with teammates, has been a real Pens killer with 42 points, +15 in 33 career games.

Tomas Vokoun, the Game One starter in goal, has been historically unsuccessful against Ottawa. He owns a 6-12-0 record, a .902 SAV and 1 shutout. His play to close out the Isles series was a huge boost to the Pens. The winner of Games 5 and 6 held New York scoreless in Game 5 and stopped 66 of 69 shots (.957 SAV). In his one start against the Sens this year, Vokoun stopped 34 of 35 shots and earned the victory. However, on Tuesday’s this year, Tomas is 0-1-0, has an .852 SAV and a 5.21 GAA.

Vokoun’s counterpart, Craig Anderson, likely would have been a Vezina finalist had he not missed 18 games due to injury. His lifetime record against Pittsburgh stands at 4-4-2, a .919 SAV, a 2.48 GAA and 0 shutouts. This season, the Ottawa net minder was 0-2-1, a .909 SAV and a 2.61 GAA. A better record at home than on the road, the stats don’t tell the whole tale. Anderson’s numbers were similar only surrendering 1.71 GA, but his record was 4-6-0 on the road. His .925 SAV on the PK is stellar and he did not surrender a SHG in 16 chances. Anderson was fantastic on Tuesday’s going 5-1-0, with a .943 SAV, a 1.84 GAA and 1 shutout.

Keys to the Game

1. Score First. Ottawa was 3-0 in the Montreal series when scoring first while Pittsburgh was 2-1 versus the Islanders. Generally Pittsburgh started strongly scoring 20 of 25 1st round goals in the first two periods. Pittsburgh may need a lead going into the 3rd period as they scored only three times against the Isles while Ottawa was at its most productive, 12 goals for, and most stingy, 0 goals against.

2. Attack the Points. Karlsson and Gonchar will play tons of minutes for the Sens each and every game. It will be imperative for the Penguins to control the gap on them, limit their ability to carry the puck in transition and play physically against them. Part of the physicality should come from soft dump-ins that force EK and Gonch to turn into their own zone, play the puck below the goal line and absorb multiple hits throughout the game.

3. Vokouna Matata. Pittsburgh is sticking with the hot hand in goaltender Tomas Vokoun. His stellar play during the 1st Round in Games 5 and 6 warrants his nod, but his career stats against Ottawa are less than spectacular. The Sens don’t have a bonafide superstar forward, but 16 players had 10 or more points in the regular season and secondary scoring abounds. Defenders clearing the front of the net, forwards helping on the back check and avoiding turnovers will be a big key to limiting the Ottawa offense.

A Big Large Production