OTTAWA — The Pittsburgh Penguins (15-13-4) just don’t seem to like spending Saturday nights in Canada.
A lackluster, OK, terrible first 40 minutes put the Penguins in a two-goal hole to the Ottawa Senators (12-17-0) that probably should have been deeper, but the third period was the Hyde to the first 40 minutes of Jeykll. The Penguins, who had just 11 shots in the first 40 minutes despite over nine minutes of power play time, fired 23 shots in the third period to overcome that deficit.
However, a miscue in overtime negated a strong Penguins comeback. Ottawa forward Tim Stutzle scored a couple of minutes into overtime, and Ottawa earned their first win under interim coach Jacques Martin, 5-4, at the Canadian Tire Centre.
The comeback was furious, as they outshot Ottawa 23-1, but it was not enough.
Moments after coach Mike Sullivan flipped his middle-six centers Evgeni Malkin and Lars Eller to begin the third period, it paid dividends. The new Malkin line with Drew O’Connor and Radim Zohorna, and the line pulled the Penguins within one just two minutes into the final period.
It was O’Connor (3) who tipped Marcus Pettersson’s shot past Ottawa goalie Anton Forsberg to close the Penguins’ gap to 4-3.
In the final minutes of the third period, the line again created sustained offensive pressure, and Kris Letang (3) scored on a long wrister through traffic.
Another wasted Saturday up north became at least a point.
Despite a two-man advantage for 1:38 and three power plays in the first 20 minutes, the Penguins managed just seven shots in the first period. They did manage a power play goal later in the first when Lars Eller (4) ripped a one-timer from the right circle but otherwise didn’t generate offensive zone time or pressure.
The Penguins’ power play had just three shots in over nine minutes of power play time in the first 40 minutes. They had just seven shots in the first period and only four more in the second period despite 9:34 of power play time.
The third period better — the team ripped four shots on their final power play chance, including several great chances. Sullivan moved Kris Letang to the top unit and slid Malkin and Erik Karlsson to the second.
The Penguins also gave up a goal within minutes of each of their first two scores.
Once again, they didn’t have much energy. Ottawa did.
Penguins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made his third straight start but allowed one he clearly wasn’t happy to yield. Midway through the first period, Ottawa defenseman Jakob Chychrun waited for a carom off the back wall and slipped his wrister past Nedeljkovic on the short side.
The Penguins tied the game on Eller’s power-play goal with about five minutes remaining in the first period, but it didn’t last long. Only 30 seconds later, Josh Norris (12) extended his goal streak to five games. Norris took advantage of the Penguins’ goal hangover and was uncovered to swat a puck out of the air near the crease for another Ottawa lead.
Two minutes into the second period, the Penguins dug their hole a little deeper. Brady Tkachuk (15) had an easy tap-in when the Penguins’ defensive zone coverage broke down, and Rickard Rakell was a step behind.
Sidney Crosby again kept his team in a game in which they were not playing well. Crosby and Rakell worded a give-and-go in the offense zone. Rakell (1) finally got off the schneid with a wrist shot past Ottawa goalie Anton Forsberg midway through the second period.
However, the Penguins didn’t let their one-goal deficit stand for more than a few minutes. Moments after another failed Penguins power play, Erik Brainstorm and Tkachuk converted what was essentially a two-on-none as Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson chased Tkachuk.
Brannstrom got the goal, but not until a lengthy review for offside. Tkachuk dragged his backfoot as far as humanly possible. The end result was not conclusive, though if Tkachuk was onside, TV replays showed it was by the slimmest margin.
The Penguins were 1-for-6 on the power play in the first 40 minutes. Ottawa was 0-for-4, as 17 of the first 40 minutes were played shorthanded.
The Senators had lost six in a row, including two with new/interim head coach Jacques Martin behind the bench. The win was Martin’s first win in his new assignment with the club but his 342nd win as coach of the Senators, whom he coached from 1995-96 through 2003-04.
Nedeljkovic stopped 21 of 25 shots in regulation. His record fell to 5-2-2. Forsberg stopped 30 of 34 before overtime. Ottawa scored on the only shot in overtime.