Senators Spoil Gonchar/Talbot’s Return
November 19, 2009 by Big Tony
On Thursday night the Penguins got good news with the return of Sergei Gonchar and Max Talbot, Goncarh’s first game in weeks and Talbots first since game 7 of the Cup Finals last season. These two additions to the line-up were important for Pittsburgh as they have been decimated with injuries after their hot start. That good feeling did not last long for the Penguins or their fans as Ottawa ruined the party with a 6-2 drubbing of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins started out in a hurry with an impressive goal from Jordan Staal within the first 70 seconds of the game. The rest of the first period and into the second were pretty even but it was in the third when the wheels really fell off. Before you could blink the Senators had posted three goals, it was 5-1, Fleury was yanked, and the Penguins had lost any shot of winning the game. Some may want to blame the loss on Fleury giving up a few arguably soft goals, others might say the two guys coming back left the team out of sync, but it was simply a game of missed opportunities and a loss of focus as a result of those failed chances. After netting the first goal Pittsburgh got four power play chances to really distance themselves from the Senators—who are not a top team by any stretch—which probably would have put the game out of reach but Pittsburgh failed to do so. That really seemed to take the wind out of the sails for the Penguins and to Ottawa’s credit they smelled blood and seized the opportunity. The Senators were pressuring majorly in the final two periods and spent a ton of time in the Penguins’ zone. There were a number of occasions that Ottawa wore the Penguins down in their own zone resulting in Pittsburgh icing the puck a number of times allowing Ottawa to regroup and sustain their pressure. Neither Ottawa nor Pittsburgh are as good or bad respectively as they showed on Thursday but what you can take from this game is what happens when one team misses chances, loses confidence, and the other teams senses that and turns up the heat. Ottawa did not do anything special they simply put Pittsburgh away when they were down.
A great sign about Thursday for Senators fans was that they showed the ability to turn it up a notch when last year they might have let Pittsburgh hang around and actually lose the game. It has been a while since a Senators team has been able to do that and if they build off of this experience they can grow into a pretty good team.