Bad blood boil­ing over in East fi­nal

Pha­neuf hit on Pen­guins’ Guentzel set the tone for a rough se­ries

The Daily Observer - - SPORTS - BRUCE GARRIOCH

PITTS­BURGH — It didn’t take long for the bad blood to build up be­tween the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors and Pitts­burgh Pen­guins.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s es­ca­lated quickly.

Not only have the Sen­a­tors and Pen­guins had two pretty strong de­fen­sive ef­forts in the first two games of the East fi­nal at the PPG Paints Arena, they’ve also had some hard hits and scrums af­ter the whis­tle that Ot­tawa didn’t al­ways see in its first two se­ries against the Bos­ton Bru­ins and New York Rangers.

Per­haps, Dion Pha­neuf set the tone in the first pe­riod with his open ice hit on Bryan Rust that sent him to the dress­ing room and then later Jake Guentzel got the same treat­ment from the club’s pretty al­ter­nate cap­tain.

It got ugly at the end when Ot­tawa cen­tre Kyle Tur­ris and Pitts­burgh’s Ev­geni Malkin ex­changed pleas­antries in the face-off cir­cle that led to a scrum with 13.6 se­conds left in­volv­ing pretty much ev­ery­one on the ice.

“You’re go­ing to get that when you’re play­ing against the same team night in and night out. I have no is­sue with it. It’s great. It’s prob­a­bly great en­ter­tain­ment too,” said de­fence­man Marc Methot be­fore the club made its way home.

“When you’re play­ing against the same play­ers over and over again, even­tu­ally, you get on each other’s nerves, and that’s go­ing to be the case here.”

The Sen­a­tors cer­tainly no­ticed the level of in­ten­sity in­crease.

“(The ha­tred) might have taken a step (Monday),” said winger Tom Py­att. “There were some emo­tions at cer­tain points of the game. They’re get­ting a lit­tle frus­trated too. They’re an of­fen­sive team, and if they’re not gen­er­at­ing a lot of chances, they can get a lit­tle frus­trated too.

“But, that’s good for us. Just want to keep play­ing strong de­fen­sively and hope­fully just get a few more bounces of­fen­sively and a few more chances.”

Head coach Guy Boucher didn’t agree the first two se­ries weren’t as in­tense.

“That’s just what the play­offs are ... I wouldn’t call it bad blood, it’s just play­off emo­tion. Ev­ery game, it mounts up to more and more,” Boucher said. “That’s how it is. It’s an emo­tional game with guys that are fight­ing with ev­ery­thing they’ve got and a lot of pride, and there’s just go­ing to be more and more of that.

“That’s just the na­ture game.” of the

BRUCE BEN­NETT/GETTY IM­AGES

Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors’ de­fence­man Dion Pha­neuf checks Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ for­ward Jake Guentzel dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod in Game 2 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal dur­ing the 2017 NHL Stan­ley Cup Play­offs at PPG Paints Arena, in Pitts­burgh.

HARRY HOW/GETTY IM­AGES

Ana­heim Ducks’ pest Ryan Kesler de­flects a shot on Nashville Preda­tors’ goal­tender Pekka Rinne in the third pe­riod of Game 1 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal dur­ing the 2017 Stan­ley Cup Play­offs at Honda Cen­ter on Fri­day, in Ana­heim.

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