Patrick Lalime returned from a virus and recorded his sixth shutout of the season and Marian Hossa scored his 35th goal as the Ottawa Senators extended their unbeaten streak to four games with a 3-0 blanking of the Penguins.
Facing his former team, Lalime stopped 20 shots but saw only five in the third period from the Penguins, who played their first game since trading Kovalev - their second-leading scorer - to the New York Rangers on Monday in an eight-player fire sale.
“Maybe it’s a little bit more (special) coming here,” said Lalime, who broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh in 1996. “Always nice to come back and get a win. In the third period, we didn’t give them anything.”
Hossa’s goal 40 seconds into the final period made it 2-0. The All-Star right wing moved within two of NHL goal-scoring leader Markus Naslund as the Eastern Conference-leading Senators improved to 3-0-1 in their last four contests.
Hossa has tallied in back-to-back games after missing two with the flu and going five contests without a goal.
Toni Dahlman scored his first NHL goal, putting Ottawa in front at 14:20 of the second period. Chris Neil netted his fifth of the season midway through the third as Ottawa avenged a 4-1 home loss on October 30.
“It’s a big thing, it’s about time I scored that first goal,” Dahlman said.
Johan Hedberg made 20 saves for the Penguins, who have lost five of six.
Pittsburgh’s financial difficulties forced the club to trade Kovalev, who can become a restricted free agent after the season. The Penguins got wingers Mikael Samuelsson and Rico Fata and defensemen Joel Bouchard and Richard Lintner in the deal.
The game was scoreless when Fata had a breakaway with 7 1/2 minutes left in the second, but Lalime smothered the puck.
“Lalime slid to the right and blocked the shot,” Fata said. “Hopefully, we can continue to improve.”
Less than two minutes later, Ottawa’s Mike Fisher carried into the Penguins’ zone to create the opening goal. His pass into the slot was controlled by Dahlman with his glove and the Finnish winger snapped a shot just inside the left goalpost.
“I just wanted to shoot it right away,” Dahlman said. “I heard it hit the post. I didn’t know it went in.”
Hossa’s wraparound effort in the third went between Hedberg’s pads and doubled Ottawa’s advantage.
Midway through the period, Bouchard failed to clear his zone. Neil capitalized, rifling a slap shot just under the crossbar to make it 3-0.
“I felt pretty good. Then I made a bad play on the third goal,” Bouchard said. “I was making plays until that goal. It was a dumb play by me.”
In a contest pitting the NHL’s top two power-play units, Ottawa failed to convert its lone chance with a man advantage and Pittsburgh was 0-for-3.