Senators head in break on high note with win over Penguins

Don Brennan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- Senators coach Paul MacLean had a Christmas message for the team's fans early Monday.
"Stay patient," said MacLean. "We're still finding our way."
The Senators sped up the process a few hours later, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 in front of at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season and 24th of his career as Ottawa won for the first time in four games and improved its record to 15-17-7.
Center Zack Smith, winger Bobby Ryan, defenseman Erik Karlsson, center Kyle Turris and winger Cory Conacher had the Ottawa goals, while Karlsson also added two assists.
"Everybody came to play," said Anderson, who made second period breakaway saves on Penguins center Brandon Sutter and winger James Neal when the game was still up for grabs. "We grinded it out and we made it hard on them. We did the things we need to do to give ourselves a chance to win the game.
"We just have to build on this."
The loss snapped Pittsburgh's winning streak at seven games. Not only did the injury-riddled Penguins have five AHL defensemen in the line-up, they were also without star center Evgeni Malkin, and lost first line winger Pascal Dupuis to injury early in the game.
The Penguins could have fared better, however, had their No. 1 ranked power play not let them down, as they were 0-for-7 with the man advantage.
Still, they trailed 2-0 until Karlsson scored his 10th of the season at 1:36 of the third.
"Our power play hurt us," said Penguins center Sidney Crosby. "We had some real good chances there in the second (when it was) a 2-0 game. I didn't feel like they were getting much there in the second period. We didn't capitalize on those power plays we got. Karlsson's goal in the third kind of took a lot of momentum away from us. Then they just kind of sat on that lead.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots as Pittsburgh's record dropped to 27-11-1.
"We knew we weren't going to win every game until the end, but every time you lose it's frustrating," said Fleury. " It's tough when you lose 5-0."
Smith opened the scoring at 6:54 of the first period, winning an offensive zone faceoff then going to the net for a rebound after Fleury stopped a point shot by defenseman Cody Ceci. The goal was the seventh of the season for Smith.
Ryan notched his 17th of the season at 5:46 of the middle frame, deflecting a point shot from defenseman Chris Phillips with the Senators on a power play.
Turris followed the Karlsson goal in the third with his ninth of the season while Conacher wrapped up the scoring with just under six minutes to go, scoring his third of the season to end a 30-game slump.
"It was a meaningless goal for the team," said Conacher. "But it feels good to get that weight off my shoulders."
While the Penguins remain firmly atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Senators moved to within four points of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for the final wildcard playoff spot.
"It's a great game for us going into the break," said Senators center Jason Spezza. "A great game by (Anderson), and we did a good job of containing them and keeping them to the outside.
"Hopefully, we can carry some of those feelings into the break and come back strong."
NOTES: Penguins LW Pascal Dupuis left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury. Dupuis was skating toward the net when Senators D Marc Methot hip-checked Penguins C Sidney Crosby, driving him into Dupuis. ... Senators F Mika Zibanejad was scheduled to return from a one-game absence caused by an upper-body injury when he came down with the flu just before the opening faceoff. With Zibanejad out, tough-guy LW Matt Kassian dressed for the third game in a row. ... Senators RW Bobby Ryan's second-period goal kept him from equaling his longest goal slump of the season. Ryan has only gone four goals without a game once. ... Crosby entered the night on a 10-game point scoring streak and with at least one point in 31 of the team's 38 games. ... Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury was playing in his 499th NHL game. ... Senators D Cody Ceci recorded his first NHL assist in the opening period. The former first-round pick had one goal in his first six games.

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