PITTSBURGH — Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs and the Pittsburgh Penguins evened their Eastern Conference final against Ottawa with a 1-0 victory in Game 2 on Monday night.

Phil Kessel beat Craig Anderson with a wrist shot 13:05 into the third period as Pittsburgh finally broke through against the Senators’ packed-in defense.

The Penguins dominated play for long stretches but couldn’t solve Anderson until late in the third. Kessel’s initial shot hit Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau and came right back to him. Kessel fired hard and low past Anderson for his sixth – and certainly most important – goal of the playoffs.

Game 3 is Wednesday in Ottawa.

Anderson finished with 28 saves but received little help. The Senators went nearly 19 minutes without putting a shot on Fleury. When they eventually got going late, Fleury was more than up to the task.

Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan challenged his team to stop searching for the perfect shot and just fire it at Anderson instead after Pittsburgh struggled to create any traffic in front of the goaltender during a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1.

The Stanley Cup champions responded by heavily tilting the ice at times, remarkable considering they spent most of the night down two men after forward Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz left in the first period with injuries.

Rust was on the losing end of a clean check by Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf 4:58 into the game. Rust slowly made his way to the bench under his own power but did not return.

Schultz, who has become Pittsburgh’s most important blue liner with Kris Letang and Trevor Daley out, slid awkwardly into the end boards after getting bumped off the puck by Senators forward Mike Hoffman about midway through the first. Just like Rust, Schultz walked down the runway to the training room and never made it back.

It hardly seemed to slow down the Penguins, who spent a large portion of the night playing keepaway from Ottawa in the offensive end. Yet the Senators have proven repeatedly during their deepest playoff run in a decade they’re just fine sitting back and waiting for an opening to counter. It’s a style that produced both goals in Game 1 and while they went long stretches without testing Fleury, it hardly mattered thanks to Anderson and a little bit of luck.

Jake Guentzel rang a shot off the post and Sidney Crosby rifled one that glanced off the side of the net. Crosby then split Erik Karlsson’s legs with a pass to Guentzel right in front of the Ottawa crease and the 22-year-old rookie managed to flip it over Anderson, over the crossbar, over the boards and into the protective netting.

In December, the Penguins poured in eight goals in a hectic, wide-open victory at home against Ottawa. The Senators, however, have embraced Coach Guy Boucher’s neutral-zone clogging system and found a way to slow Pittsburgh down in the process.

The Penguins have scored just four goals combined in each of their last four games against the Senators.


CAPITALS: General Manager Brian MacLellan is undertaking a “thorough evaluation” of the team and doesn’t have a definitive date set for his first meeting with reporters since Washington’s second-round loss to Pittsburgh, according to a team spokesman.

In the past, MacLellan has typically held his end-of-season news conference within a week of the Capitals’ last loss, and the delay prompts some speculation that a shake-up could be coming.

It figures to be a busy offseason for Washington, with only 11 players under contract.