Pens make it seven straight
OTTAWA, Ontario – The Pittsburgh Penguins keep winning, and coach Mike Sullivan thinks they can be even better.
Sidney Crosby and Carl Hagelin each scored twice and the Penguins came back from a three-goal deficit to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 Tuesday night for their seventh straight victory.
“The mindset of the group right now is there’s a mental toughness there that we can battle through some of that adversity even though we’re not at our best,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I didn’t think we were. I didn’t think we were quite as sharp as we’ve been, but certainly we found a way to win.”
Crosby’s pair included an empty-netter and Patric Hornqvist also scored for Pittsburgh. Rookie goaltender Matt Murray made 27 saves.
Despite the rally, defenseman Kris Letang said the Penguins need to take a lesson from this game.
“You can’t think that we played well because we won the game. You have to think it’s a good character win. We believe in each other and by playing the right way I think we showed in the second and the third that we can do some good things, but if you start like that in the playoffs you’re going to get burned.”
Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith scored for the Senators. Andrew Hammond stopped 23 of 27 shots.
“We let them get back into it,” Smith said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of shutting them down.”
Tied 3-3, the Senators failed to score on a 1:32 two-man advantage, and then Letang sprawled across the crease to make a huge save behind Murray that looked like a sure goal.
Then a harmless looking shot from Hagelin found its way past Hammond to make it 4-3 Pittsburgh.
“It looked like it was going to be a back-door pass and I just kind of opened up too much and he was able to squeak it off the post,” Hammond said.
“It’s just a save I have to make.”
With the Senators holding precariously to a 3-2 lead to start the third, the Penguins took advantage of a brutal Hoffman giveaway behind his own net to Nick Bonino, who found Hagelin wide open out front to tie the game at the 4-minute mark.
Hoffman had given the Senators a 2-0 lead 2 minutes into the second, scoring his 29th of the season. Just over a minute later, Smith made it 3-0, celebrating his 28th birthday by beating Murray glove side.
“It wasn’t pretty at the start,” Crosby said. “We didn’t work near as hard as we needed to. They played hard, they forced turnovers and buried some chances. We had a lot of time and fortunately we were able to get back in it.”
The Penguins managed to get on the board at the 7-minute mark of the period when the puck got lost in the crowd in the crease and Hornqvist was able to jam it past Hammond.
Crosby then went on to extend his point streak to seven games when he picked up a rebound and beat Hammond short side to make it 3-2 at the 15-minute mark.
Karlsson got his 100th career goal midway through the first when he banked a shot off Hornqvist. It was Karlsson’s 80th point of the season.
Already without a number of veterans, the Senators lost Bobby Ryan to a lower-body injury in the second. He did not return for the third.
“The way our season has gone is a tough pill to swallow,” Hammond said. “You don’t get used to it. It never gets easier. It feels the same way it did Game 50 or Game 10. It’s just not fun at all.”
Notes: The Senators were without D Marc Methot (undisclosed), RW Mark Stone (upper body) and C Scott Gomez was a healthy scratch. RW Buddy Robinson made his NHL debut.