It was marketed as Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin and, one game in, it has lived up to that billing.
Washington was buzzing in the first period, generating several quality chances to score but failing to beat Marc-Andre Fleury, who held down the fort and kept the Penguins in the game. His teammates were solid as well but, ultimately, neither side was able to break through.
Deciding he’d had enough, Crosby scored a pair of goals in the first 1:16 of the second period to spot Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. Not to be outdone, Ovechkin answered with a rocket from the top of the circle—a not-so-shocking development—to cut the Penguins’ lead in half.
In the third period, Evgeny Kuznetsov slam-dunked a great feed from Matt Niskanen to tie the contest at two and send Verizon Center into a frenzy. Unfortunately, that euphoria was short-lived, as Nick Bonino took a pass from Scott Wilson and darted in on Holtby, beating the Caps’ netminder with a nifty wrist shot to regain the lead for Pittsburgh.
Washington made a tremendous push from that point forward, peppering Fleury with shot after shot, but the Pens survived.
Pittsburgh now lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 on Saturday in D.C.
Senators 2, Rangers 1 | OTT leads 1-0
Henrik Lundqvist was super-human in the first period, and he bailed the Rangers out on multiple occasions, including robbery of Mark Stone on a point-blank chance by lunging in desperation to keep the game goalless.
The teams traded power play goals in the middle frame. First, it was Ryan McDonagh getting the Rangers on the board with a long shot from the point. Then, towards the end of the period, Ryan Dzingel cashed in on a rebound from Alexandre Burrows’s shot to tie it for the Senators.
As incredible as Lundqvist was—he finished with 41 stops on the night to Craig Anderson's 34—the game-winning-goal he surrendered was extremely fluky. Erik Karlsson took a shot from the goal line to Lundqvist’s left and, somehow, the puck snuck through, giving Ottawa a 2-1 lead with just over four minutes to go in regulation.
The Blueshirts made a push, but to no avail. The Senators take a 1-0 series lead and will resume their matchup with the Rangers on Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre.
Highlight of the Night, Part I
The Ottawa Police will be looking for Henrik Lundqvist after his grand theft of Mark Stone’s would-be goal in the first period.
Highlight of the Night, Part II
Erik Karlsson's game-winner: What? How? What??
3. Nick Bonino (PIT) – The Penguins forward (and noted Caps killer) scored the game-winning-goal with less than 10 minutes to go in the third after Washington tied things up.
2. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – He made 41 saves in the losing effort, many of which were of the highlight reel variety. Don’t let the odd-angle goal by Erik Karlsson persuade you into thinking otherwise.
1. Sidney Crosby (PIT) – He scored two goals in 1:04 to help propel his Penguins to a Game 1 victory in Washington.