PITTSBURGH (Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to bounce back from a loss tonight, when the defending Stanley Cup champions host the Ottawa Senators at Mellon Arena in Game 2 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Ottawa posted a 5-4 road victory to open the series Wednesday in the Steel City. Jarkko Ruutu's goal midway through the third period proved to be the game-winner for the fifth-seeded Senators, who will try to grab a two games to none lead before this series shifts to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4.
The Penguins, winners of the last two Eastern Conference titles, showed the ability to come back from 1-0 series deficits last spring. Pittsburgh lost a pair of Game 1 decisions during its championship run and even fell behind 2-0 to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals before winning that series in seven games.
"It is never easy to dominate a playoff game in a series," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby following the Game 1 loss. "To sit here and think that every shift is going to be in our favor, it's just not going to happen. That's why it's important to make the most of our chances when we get them."
The Senators, who are back in the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons after failing to qualify last year, used a balanced scoring attack to down the Penguins in the series' opener. Peter Regin, Chris Kelly, Erik Karlsson and Chris Neil joined Ruutu in scoring goals for Ottawa.
"The first few minutes we were tentative at times, and at the end, they made us nervous, but we held on," said Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston.
Brian Elliott needed to make just 17 saves to earn the victory in his playoff debut.
Evgeni Malkin scored twice for the Penguins, who are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles since Detroit pulled off the repeat in 1997 and '98. Malkin has seven goals against Ottawa this year, including his five tallies in four games during the regular-season series.
Craig Adams and Alex Goligoski also scored in the losing effort, while Marc- Andre Fleury allowed five goals on 26 shots for Pittsburgh. Crosby, who tied for the NHL lead with 51 goals during the regular season, added three assists in the loss.
"The most important thing is to try to move on and get ready for the next game," said Fleury.
Speaking of moving on, Ottawa will be forced to play the rest of the postseason without left wing Milan Michalek, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee on Wednesday. He is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the damage at a later date.
Michalek initially hurt his knee in a March 18 game against Atlanta and returned for the final two games of the regular season. He aggravated the problem in the second period of Game 1 and had to limp off the ice. Michalek was Ottawa's third-leading goal scorer during the regular season with 22 and added 12 assists for 34 points in 66 games.
The Michalek injury is more bad news for Ottawa, which is also without defenseman Filip Kuba and forward Alex Kovalev. Kuba is sidelined indefinitely following back surgery, while Kovalev is out for the playoffs after also suffering a torn ACL during the final week of the regular season.
The Senators and Penguins split four games during an up-and-down season series. Pittsburgh outscored the Senators, 12-3, in its two victories while Ottawa had a combined 10-3 edge in goals in its wins.
These clubs never met in the playoffs prior to 2007, but this marks the third time in four seasons that the Pens and Sens will face off in the postseason. Ottawa ousted the Penguins in five games during the opening round of the playoffs in 2007, but Pittsburgh exacted revenge with a sweep in the conference quarterfinals the following spring.
Game 3 is set for Sunday at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.
The Penguins were 25-12-4 as the host this year, while the Sens struggled on the road, going 18-21-2 away from Canada's capital city.