Bobby Ryan’s OT goal lifts Sen­a­tors past Pen­guins in Game 1.

SEN­A­TORS 2, PEN­GUINS 1 (OT)

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - STAN­LEY CUP PLAY­OFFS BY WILL GRAVES

pitts­burgh — Bobby Ryan beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a break­away 4:59 into over­time to give the Ottawa Sen­a­tors a 2-1 vic­tory over the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins on Satur­day night in Game 1 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

Ryan took con­trol near cen­ter ice and raced by Pitts­burgh de­fense­man Olli Maatta be­fore flipping a back­han­der past Fleury to give the up­start Sen­a­tors early con­trol of the se­ries.

The Sen­a­tors im­proved to 6-1 in over­time dur­ing the play­offs.

Game 2 is Mon­day night in Pitts­burgh.

Ryan as­sisted on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s first-pe­riod goal. Craig An­der­son made 27 saves.

Evgeni Malkin’s goal late in the third pe­riod forced the ex­tra pe­riod, but the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons strug­gled to gen­er­ate any con­sis­tent pres­sure. Fleury made 33 stops but let Ryan deke him out of po­si­tion as the Pen­guins fell be­hind in a se­ries for the first time in the play­offs.

Pitts­burgh only had 72 hours to recharge fol­low­ing a drain­ing seven-game se­ries against Wash­ing­ton. While the Pen­guins in­sisted they would have no prob­lem turn­ing the page with a spot in the Stan­ley Cup fi­nals on the line, there was a dip in in­ten­sity both on the ice and in the stands.

For long stretches, it felt like the game could have been played in mid-De­cem­ber in­stead of midMay, which was just fine by Ottawa. The Sen­a­tors stressed they weren’t sim­ply just happy to reach the NHL’s fi­nal four for the first time in a decade. While Ottawa hardly seemed over­come by the stage, the neu­tral zone trap Coach Guy Boucher in­stalled upon his hir­ing last spring didn’t ex­actly cause the Pen­guins prob­lems.

In­stead, Pitts­burgh’s is­sues came af­ter it gained the of­fen­sive zone. The team that led the NHL in scor­ing dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son and ousted the first and fourth over­all teams dur­ing the first two rounds of the play­offs de­spite be­ing out­shot ev­ery game looked ten­ta­tive, of­ten pass­ing up open looks in search of bet­ter ones that never ma­te­ri­al­ized. Only the fourth line led by 40-year-old Matt Cullen — and not the top two led by Malkin and Sid­ney Crosby — seemed in­tent on get­ting to the Ottawa net.

The Pen­guins had plenty of chances to take con­trol but pro­duced noth­ing out of four first-pe­riod power plays, in­clud­ing 45 sec­onds of a five-on-three that went nowhere. Ron Hain­sey hit the cross­bar early and Pa­tric Horn­qvist dinged the left post, but that’s as close as Pitts­burgh would get to slip­ping one by An­der­son un­til the third pe­riod.

The Sen­a­tors fo­cused not on cre­at­ing ex­tended pres­sure on Fleury but in­stead on tak­ing ad­van­tage of Pitts­burgh’s mis­takes. The break­through came 14:32 into the first when Pen­guins de­fense­man Brian Dumoulin left a blind drop pass be­hind his net that Ryan in­ter­cepted and slipped to Pageau in the right cir­cle.

CHARLES LECLAIRE/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Pitts­burgh’s Phil Kes­sel skates with the puck as Cody Ceci de­fends. The Pen­guins tied the game in the third pe­riod be­fore fall­ing.

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