Sidney Crosby scored a goal, prevented another, and his deft stickhandling led to Kris Letang’s winner late in the third period as the Penguins rebounded to beat the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, last night in Pittsburgh to even the Eastern Conference first-round series at a game apiece.
Several minutes after Crosby slid on his stomach across the crease to punch away Anton Volchenkov’s shot as it lay inches from the goal line, Crosby began cycling the puck by himself behind the Ottawa net. Looking for an opening to pass or to dart out and take a shot, he crossed the goalie trapezoid three times before finally carrying the puck out and, sliding to the ice, feeding it to Letang at the right point.
Letang’s shot with 4:12 left beat goalie Brian Elliott, who made 29 saves but didn’t get any support after Peter Regin scored on the Senators’ first shot 18 seconds into the game. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury shook off that goal and a poor first game to turn aside Ottawa’s next 19 shots.
The Stanley Cup champion Penguins, staring at a daunting 2-0 series deficit if they lost a second successive home game, will travel to Ottawa for Game 3 tomorrow night.
The Senators, emboldened by their 5-4 victory in Game 1, got off to the best possible start — and the worst for Fleury. On the Senators’ first shift, Jason Spezza controlled the puck along the boards and got it out to Regin, whose shot sailed past Fleury’s outstretched glove and into the net.
With Penguins backup goalie Brent Johnson out with flu-like symptoms, coach Dan Bylsma had to wonder about Fleury’s confidence — already a concern because of his shaky Game 1. But Fleury, 9-2 in his playoff career when following a game in which he allowed four goals or more, settled down to shut out the Senators the rest of the way.
The Penguins tied it slightly more than eight minutes later when Crosby — held scoreless on two shots in the opener — put in a backhander from close range off a rebound of Chris Kunitz’s shot.
Crosby’s play of the game might not have been the goal he scored or the one he set up, but the one he stopped.
Ottawa nearly took the lead with 9:13 remaining when Volchenkov’s long wrist shot deflected off Fleury and was skittering toward the goal line before a sliding Crosby punched it away. TV replays didn’t show conclusively if the puck would have crossed the line if Crosby hadn’t touched it.
The game became much more physical than the opener after Ottawa defenseman Andy Sutton leveled defenseman Jordan Leopold with an elbow hit late in the first period, causing Leopold to lay on the ice for several minutes. He didn’t return to the game, although Sutton was not penalized.
That play led to Penguins forward Max Talbot fighting center Zack Smith after the first period ended. Talbot and Jarkko Ruutu drew roughing penalties after getting into a brief skirmish in the second period.
Devils 5, Flyers 3 — Dainius Zubrus scored on a rebound with 4:04 to play and host New Jersey beat Philadelphia to even the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at a game apiece.
Zach Parise, Colin White, Andy Greene, and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored, and Martin Brodeur stopped 26 shots to help New Jersey avoid the death sentence of losing the first two games at home in the best-of-seven series.
Aaron Asham, Claude Giroux, and Chris Pronger scored for the Flyers, headed home for Games 3 and 4.
Red Wings 7, Coyotes 4 — Henrik Zetterberg scored three goals, including the winner with 6:06 left, and visiting Detroit beat Phoenix to even the first-round Western Conference series at a game apiece.
Linemate Valtteri Filppula scored twice and Justin Abdelkader and Pavel Datsyuk added goals for Detroit, which won its 50th consecutive postseason game in which it has scored at least four goals.
Shane Doan, Matthew Lombardi, Wojtek Wolski, and Keith Yandle scored for Phoenix.
Sharks 6, Avalanche 5 — Joe Pavelski scored the tying goal with 31.3 seconds left in regulation, and Devin Setoguchi deflected in a loose puck for a power-play goal 5:32 into overtime as San Jose earned a split at home in its Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Setoguchi’s second goal of the game came with Colorado’s Adam Foote in the penalty box for interference. The Sharks avoided dropping the first two games at home for a third straight playoff series.
Predators 4, Blackhawks 1 — J.P. Dumont scored twice in the final period and Nashville won for the first time on the road in the playoffs, rallying to beat Chicago in the Western Conference quarterfinal opener.