Nothing can be as deflating as seeing all that work go to waste in one night. That's what happened to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at Mellon Arena.
Backed by an opportunistic attack and some uncharacteristically sloppy play from their opponent, the Ottawa Senators robbed the Penguins of home-ice advantage in their first-round series with a 5-4 win in Game 1.
The Penguins looked dialed-in early. They were sharp. They took advantage of an Ottawa penalty on the first of two Evgeni Malkin power-play goals. The Senators led 2-1 after one on goals by Peter Regin and Chris Neil, but the game was summarized in one play early in the second period.
The Senators were on a power play, and dumped the puck into the offensive zone. It took a funky bounce off the glass in the corner, and bounced out in front of the net. This wouldn't have been a problem, except Marc-Andre Fleury had ventured behind the net to corral the dump-in. With only a yawning net in front of him, Chris Kelly deposited the loose change to make it 3-1, Ottawa.
The Penguins better hope not. For the most part, the Senators played like a poised and experienced team Wednesday night. They did a great job jamming up the neutral zone, and they outworked the Penguins for a good chunk of the game.
Now, the pressure is all on Pittsburgh. The Penguins are the defending champions, and they have battled through plenty of adversity during their previous playoff runs. However, falling behind 2-0 at home to start a best-of-seven -- when you're already not playing consistently solid hockey -- is the recipe for disaster.
You can't just turn the switch on when it's convenient, even if you are the defending champions.