Bobby Ryan lifts Senators past Penguins in OT in Game 1

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Bobby Ryan lifts Senators past Penguins in OT in Game 1

Not bad for starters, not bad at all.

And so it begins: the Eastern Conference finals.

Ottawa Senators' Bobby Ryan, center, celebrates with teammates Marc Methot (3), Derick Brassard (19), Mark Stone (61) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) after scoring the game-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the overtime period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Goaltender Craig Anderson was solid for the Senators and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a goal that appeared like it might be a victor until Pittsburgh superstar Evgeni Malkin scored late in the third period to force the Senators to work overtime.

The big save kept the Senators in front, and they nearly added another one with about seven minutes left in the period, sneaking the puck past Penguins netminder Marc-André Fleury and into the corner of the net.

The Penguins started the series leading the playoffs with 41 goals, an average of 3.4 per game. "I felt fortunate it found the net". The previous OT-winner came in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, vs. the Bruins. "So he had a lot of things to manage".

The Senators weren't anxious about giving up the lead. "We talked in the locker room, we understand how they play and we started playing better".

"Third period we played so much better", Evgeni Malkin said.

After two periods, the Senators were clinging to a 1-0 lead and Anderson was making the stops the club needed to keep the Penguins at bay.

The Senators almost went up 2-0 with under 13 minutes left in the second when Alex Burrows' pounced on a rebound in front of Fleury.

That didnt sit well with the Senators or their faithful. It also lifted Malkin past Jaromir Jagr into third place on Pittsburgh's all-time playoff points list with 148. The Penguins got some chances, notably a shot on their fifth power play of the game, which Anderson made a glove save on while sliding the other way. Kessel finished the night with three shots on goal and he hasn't scored in three consecutive games. The Senators were only outshot 8-6 and they led where it counted.

It was Pageau's eighth goal, one behind playoff leader Jake Guentzel of Pittsburgh.

The American right wing outraced a defender, crossed left across the front of the Pittsburgh goal, pulled the puck to his backhand and flipped it past Fleury high into the upper left corner of the net.

Kariya, the franchise's first star who came to the team after winning a national championship and the Hobey Baker Award at the University of ME, has mostly kept a low profile since his retirement in 2010. 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.

"We know they have a good power play", said Pageau.

What may not be getting enough credit in this playoff run so far is the play of Nashville's penalty kill.

"We had an opportunity to grab a lead", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

"It's not hard for us to come in here and give everything we have", Pageau said. "I think for me it was a complete restart..." Now, the Penguins will try to bounce back and tie the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

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