Game 1 is in the books.
The rest of the Penguins-Senators Eastern Conference semifinal series that commenced via a 4-1 Penguins’ victory in Game 1 will be contested in the trenches.
The Senators lack the Islanders’ speed but compensate with physicality and attitude.
The lone goal they managed against Tomas Vokoun in Game 1 was jabbed home from the doorstep, when Colin Greening beat Sidney Crosby in a “dirty area” and forced a
loose puck home.
Senators coach Paul MacLean announced afterward he’ll be demanding more of the same from his team, beginning in Game 2 Friday night.
“I thought they were a little bit quicker than us and a little harder than us,” MacLean assessed. “I thought at the nets they were harder. They were harder at our net and they were harder than us at their net.
“That’s something we have to get better at and we will get better it.”
What else are the Senators going to do, skate and create?
No, it’s crash the net, repeat as necessary for Ottawa.
“I think you saw that already in this game,” Pens defenseman Douglas Murray said following Game 1. “They threw a lot of pucks there and went there with a lot of guys.
“We just gotta do the job.”
The Pens did a better job of defending their slot area after the first period in Game 1.
Brooks Orpik’s second-period assault of Cory Conacher personified their renewed commitment to defending their goaltender and the front of their net.
They’ll have to keep that stuff coming.
And at the other end they’ll have to continue scoring a “blue-paint goal” _ Dan Bylsma’s description of Chris Kunitz’ power-play goal late in the second period _
They’re by far the more skilled of the two teams, but Craig Anderson is good enough in net that the Pens can’t afford to rely entirely on dazzle and finesse, especially at even strength.
James Neal admitted as much pre-series in suggesting how Anderson might be attacked.
“We’re going to have to get as much traffic and try to make his life as miserable as possible,” Neal said.
The Pens did so on their first goal in Game 1 (Brenden Morrow had net-front presence on Paul Martin’s deflected, long-range score).
They did so on their second goal (Evgeni Malkin from the tip of the crease following a fore-check that produced a turnover).
And they did so on Kunitz’ aforementioned power-play tally (he swatted in the rebound of a Jarome Iginla shot that was still in the crease).
Even Pascal Dupuis’ spectacular, short-handed goal off a 2-on-1 rush was launched from just in front of Anderson.
The Pens need to keep that stuff coming at one end and keep the Senators from being able to do the same at the other.
That’s gonna leave a mark but, as Murray observed, it’s gotta be done.