PITTSBURGH – Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz scored power-play goals and Pascal Dupuis added his sixth goal of the playoffs, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday.
Evgeni Malkin extended his points streak to seven games with a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh.
Game 2 is Friday night.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 35 shots to win his third straight start, and top-seeded Pittsburgh never trailed.
Colin Greening scored for the Senators. Craig Anderson made 26 saves but Ottawa had no answer for Pittsburgh’s power play.
The Penguins are 9 of 24 with the man advantage through seven playoff games, best of the eight teams remaining in the postseason.
The Senators had the NHL’s best penalty kill during the regular season and turned aside 16 of 19 penalties against Montreal in the first round.
Pittsburgh was pushed to six games by the New York Islanders during a spirited first-round series in which the Islanders had the Penguins on their heels at times.
Still, Pittsburgh advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time in three years behind the power play and a gutsy move by coach Dan Bylsma to bench top goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and replace him with Vokoun.
Vokoun, 36, made his 713th NHL start Tuesday, but his first with the stakes this big.
Despite admitting to some butterflies when told he would get the starting assignment for Game 1, Vokoun overcame some shaky moments early to settle down.
Having the lead most of the night certainly helped.
Pittsburgh didn’t need to wait long to get a chance to put the power play to work. Ottawa’s Kyle Turris drew a high-sticking penalty before the game was 90 seconds old, and barely a minute later, Pittsburgh jumped in front.
Malkin worked his way into the corner then threaded a pass between two Ottawa defenders to Martin at the point. Martin’s slap shot from the point deflected off Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen and scooted past Anderson just 2:41 into the game to give the Penguins an early lead.
Ottawa, facing the Penguins for the fourth time in the postseason since 2007, had little trouble getting to Vokoun.
They even managed to get the puck by him a few times. Just not into the net.