Erik Karlsson (L) and Harry Zolnierczyk (R) look for the puck while goalie Craig Anderson (C) gets in position in the 1st period as the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in NHL action at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Dec 23, 2013.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen
The Ottawa Senators put a present under their own Christmas tree on Monday night: a 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins that might have been their best complete game, oh, probably since their 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 23.
It was only the second time the Penguins had been blanked this season and not since a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 21.
Zack Smith, Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson (who also had two assists), Kyle Turris, and Cory Conacher scored for the Senators. For Conacher, it was his first goal in 31 games.
Craig Anderson faced 27 shots for his second shutout of the season (and 24th overall) while Marc-Andre Fleury faced 29.
The Senators now have three days off before they face the Bruins Friday in Boston in the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home series.
The Senators didn't give the Penguins much in the first period. They made only two giveaways, which was astonishing considering how often they've coughed the puck up this season. And on the chances the Penguins had, Anderson stopped them.
It also helped that the Senators played tough, registering 11 hits and bumping Sidney Crosby whenever they had the chance. That kept No. 87 off guard; he had only one shot.
Smith's goal at 6:54 came on a rebound off a shot by Cody Ceci and just seconds after Ceci felled referee Dean Morton with a hard dump into the Pittsburgh zone.
Ceci's shot caught Morton in the back, dropping him like he'd been shot. It took him a few minutes to get to his feet and he left the ice briefly to get looked at by Dr. Don Chow, leaving Eric Furlatt to handle the show, but returned within minutes.
The Senators did all they could to give the game away in the second period, taking four minor penalties against the team with the league's top power play.
But with Pascal Dupuis leaving the game in the first period with a lower-body injury, and with Evgeni Malkin having missed the last five games with a lower-body injury, Pittsburgh's power play is running low on talent.
Ironically, the Penguins got their best chance of the period during an Ottawa power play.
Just 12 seconds after Chris Kunitz was called for high-sticking, Brandon Sutter intercepted a pass from Chris Phillips to Erik Karlsson and got off on a breakaway. Anderson stopped him with a fine glove save, which was fortuitous, because 39 seconds after that save, Ryan made it 2-0. He deflected a shot from Phillips past Fleury, which got Phillips off the hook for the bad pass to Karlsson.
Two minutes later, James Neal got in on Anderson with another break but he, too, was unsuccessful.
WHY THEY WON
Because they got everything they needed all at once:goaltending, goal scoring, and defence. Now if they can just bottle it.
Erik Karlsson: Wow: His second-period goal, a smooth steparound Olli Maatta and wrist shot top shelf over Fleury's left shoulder, willcompete for the team's highlight of the year. Also had two assists.
Pittsburgh's power play: Normally the league's mostfearsome power power (1st at 26.2 per cent), the Penguins were 0 for 5 throughtwo periods - 0 for 4 alone in the second - and 0 for 7 overall.
The crowd of 19,838 gave the Senators their fifth fullhouse of the season and their second biggest crowd overall, behind 20,011 forDaniel Alfredsson's return on Dec. 1
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