For as much trouble as the New York Islanders gave them in the first round, the Pittsburgh Penguins never trailed in that series, and they made sure to get off on the right foot again in the second round with a convincing 4-1 victory in Game 1 over the Ottawa Senators, who got a rude awakening that they're now facing a team with a few more weapons than the Montreal Canadiens.
There was plenty of talk in between rounds about whether coach Dan Bylsma might go back to Marc-Andre Fleury against Ottawa, but he stuck with Tomas Vokoun in Game 1 and was rewarded with a 35-save effort from the veteran netminder. It left little doubt that unless Vokoun starts to struggle, he'll be the No. 1 going forward in these playoffs.
Evgeni Malkin, who leads the NHL this postseason in assists, added another on Paul Martin's power-play goal to start the scoring on Tuesday, then tied David Krejci of the Boston Bruins for the lead in points with 13 when he potted the game-winning goal at 12:15 of the first. Chris Kunitz added a power-play goal in addition to Dupuis' shorthanded tally to cap the offense.
"We are way more near where we need to be [in Game 1]," Bylsma said. "We got the puck deep, got on the forecheck, and we were able to get in the offensive zone because of that. Tonight was a much better indication of where we need to play 5-on-5."
Some of the pluck Ottawa showed in its five-game elimination of Montreal was present Tuesday in the series opener, like when the Senators responded to the Penguins scoring their opening goal by coming right back to tie it up just over two minutes later on a great effort by Colin Greening.
For the night they put 36 shots on goal and generated their fair share of scoring chances, but specialty teams did the Senators in -- they allowed a pair of power-play goals to the Penguins, then surrendered a shorthanded goal in the third period by Pascal Dupuis during a critical stretch when they could have rallied to within one.
"They played a little bit better than we did today, and we've got to come out better next game and be more prepared," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "They scored an early goal on us and set us back a bit. Need to just keep improving for every game and we know it's going to be harder and harder."
Key Injuries: Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba left Game 1 with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch (lower body) has been out since Game 3 of the Montreal series. Jason Spezza is still the ghost in the darkness.
Dupuis Crosby Iginla
Kunitz Malkin Neal
Morrow Sutter Cooke
Adams Vitale Kennedy
Michalek Turris Alfredsson
Latendresse Zibanejad Silfverberg
Greening Smith Neil
Conacher Pageau Condra
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