Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Angry Phil Kessel fires up Penguins, ties series with Senators

Craig CustanceESPN Senior Writerhttp://www.espn.com/nhl/May 15, 2017
Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 15, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH -- An angry Phil Kessel ended up being a very good thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. On a couple of occasions during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday, he was shown on the bench, yelling in frustration. Sometimes to himself. Sometimes in the direction of teammates. He was most certainly engaged.
Then he buried a shot late in the third period, only the second time in the series the Penguins beat Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, and it was all good.
The Penguins beat the Senators 1-0 Monday to even up this series at one game each.
How they did it: The Penguins used their speed much more effectively in generating consistent offensive pressure, even if it took until late in the third period to finally capitalize. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wanted to see more shooting, and his team responded with a 29-23 edge in shots. The Penguins have struggled with possession this postseason, but around the time Kessel finally broke the scoreless tie, the Penguins were controlling 64 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
It was an impressive showing, especially considering the players the Penguins were missing due to injuries.
More Penguins injured: The Penguins' defense took another serious blow when their best remaining offensive defenseman, Justin Schultz, crashed into the boards in the first period and left the ice, heading directly down the tunnel. He didn't return. If he's out any length of time, it's a major loss for a defense that is already having trouble getting the puck out if its own zone without Kris Letang and Trevor Daley. Daley skated on his own again Monday morning before the team's game-day practice.
The Penguins also lost forward Bryan Rust when he was leveled by Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf in the first period.
Phaneuf a physical force: This was classic Phaneuf. He was a one-man wrecking crew for a large portion of Game 2, starting with his open-ice hit on Rust in the first period. But Phaneuf didn't stop there in a contest that was more physical than Game 1.
He and Sidney Crosby got into a shoving match, with a heated exchange of words, and during one shift in the second period, Phaneuf leveled all three Penguins forwards who were on the ice -- Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary. Phaneuf concluded the second period by clipping Scott Wilson.
His physical play is a factor, especially considering how banged up and thin the Penguins already are.
Up next: The series shifts to Ottawa for two games, starting with Game 3 at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

No comments: