STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS: Pens let one get away as Ottawa climbs back into series
OTTAWA — Colin Greening wore six stitches on his left cheek, and a wide smile, after Ottawa’s double overtime playoff victory against Pittsburgh.
Greening ended the longest game of this year’s postseason with a backhander off a rebound 7:39 into the second overtime, and the Senators’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins cut their series deficit to 2-1 on Sunday night.
Daniel Alfredsson tied the game at 1 for Ottawa by scoring a short-handed goal with 29 seconds left in regulation just after the Senators pulled goalie Craig Anderson for an extra skater.
“We were just calm,” Anderson said of the Senators’ mood heading into overtime. “We had tied it up. We had momentum. We felt like the fans really rallied behind us. Going into overtime, we knew we just had to build off the momentum and keep the pressure on.”
Actually, both teams provided lots of pressure in a scintillating 27? minutes of extra time before Greening won it.
Greening needed six stitches to close a gash on his left cheek after taking a wayward stick to the face early in the game. The euphoria of his goal was still settling in even as the Senators’ medical staffers were picking tiny bits of fiberglass out of his face.
“You get a lot of adrenaline going through your body, but they were just small pieces,” Greening said. “Like I said, the big pieces were all taken out.”
Anderson made 49 saves, including 18 after regulation. Tomas Vokoun stopped 46 shots for Pittsburgh and took his first loss (4-1) since taking over for No. 1 Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Game 4 will be in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“Whether you win or lose, you always turn the page quickly and concentrate on the next one,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Obviously it’s disappointing, but we will bounce back.”
Tyler Kennedy scored with just over a minute to play in the second period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. That stood until Alfredsson tied it in the closing seconds of the third.
“It looked like they had it wrapped up, and we were able to get a big goal shorthanded to get into overtime, and then both teams had their chances before we got the winner,” Alfredsson said.
“Just praying that we get something to the net,” Anderson said of the tying goal. “We practice that drill all the time in practice. Guy drops it off and goes to the net. It was just the way we practiced. Alfie is one of the best guys in the game. We want the puck on his stick at all times.”
Ottawa forward Jason Spezza, who hadn’t played since Jan. 27 — after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk — lined up alongside Milan Michalek and Cory Conacher.
The sellout crowd chanted the 29-year-old Spezza’s name during his first shift.
Spezza faced a familiar opponent. His last game before surgery was at home against the Penguins, when he earned one assist and logged 21 minutes of ice time.
In his first game back, Spezza was slow to back-check but he managed to generate a few scoring chances and made nice passes.
His back was put to the test in overtime when Penguins forward Craig Adams delivered a bone-crunching hit along the boards. Spezza shook off the check.
“I popped up as quick as possible and tried to get to the bench,” Spezza said. “I was just trying to get the puck out and was in a vulnerable position, and he picked me a little clean there.”
Pittsburgh’s best scoring opportunity in the overtimes came when Pascal Dupuis hit the post with a drive during the first extra session.
“We had some better chances that we didn’t put in tonight,” Jarome Iginla said. “I thought for ourselves, we weren’t as sharp, but give them credit.”
Anderson was on his game after being pulled in Game 2. He robbed Crosby early in the second period, and moments later stopped a hard shot by Evgeni Malkin, who smashed his stick against the ice in frustration.
He again stymied Malkin with a sprawling save in the first overtime. Anderson’s effort brought the crowd of 20,500 to its feet with chants of “Andy! Andy!”
“You just want to give your team a chance to win,” Anderson said. “Sometimes stats are misleading. You just kind of build off the good stuff.”
Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson took a slashing penalty with less than two minutes left in the game, but Ottawa not only killed it, but got the tying goal from Alfredsson.
“That’s why he’s been the captain for so long,” Karlsson said. “He never quits and he leads the way for the rest of us. He showed that even though we were down a man we were really going to try and win the game and that’s exactly what he did.”
Ottawa improved to 3-0 at home in this postseason. The Senators took seven penalties against the Penguins, who own the top power-play unit in the playoffs, but didn’t allow a goal.