Roberts and Petr Sykora scored in the first period and the favored Penguins, determined not to duplicate their awful postseason opener of a year ago, rode Marc-Andre Fleury's goaltending after that to a 4-0 victory over Ottawa in the Eastern Conference playoffs Wednesday night.
Roberts had two goals while playing on Pittsburgh's fourth line, only one fewer goal than he had during an injury-interrupted season. Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's No. 2 scorer, added a goal and two assists.
Pittsburgh, which never recovered from its opening-game 6-3 loss to Ottawa during their five-game series last April, takes a 1-0 lead into Game 2 on Friday night. The Penguins have won their last nine home games.
"It's a good feeling for us, for sure," said Roberts, who has 14 of his 32 career playoff goals against Ottawa. "Last year, I think we were in shock after Game 1 in Ottawa, they came out so hard and battled us real hard. But that feeling, I don't think it's left in this dressing room."
Roberts played on Toronto Maple Leafs teams that eliminated Ottawa three times during a four-season span from 2001-04 -- one reason Ottawa tried but failed to land him at the trade deadline in 2007.
Fleury made 26 saves in his first career playoff shutout, twice stopping Cory Stillman during an extended Ottawa power play late in the second period in which Pittsburgh was down two men for nearly a minute. Fleury is 11-2-1 since returning Feb. 28 from a nearly three-month layoff with a badly sprained ankle.
"For the last 15 games, he has been the best goalie in the National Hockey League, so I am not surprised," coach Michel Therrien said.
Pittsburgh was also down two men for 50 seconds early in the third, but the Senators -- a below-.500 club since their NHL-record 13-1 start -- couldn't get the puck past former No. 1 draft pick Fleury in only his second career postseason victory.
"We had a chance to get back in it, we called a timeout and had two great chances [on the first two-man advantage], but we couldn't score," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "We're pushing to find a goal scorer right now."
The Senators were 0-for-7 on the power play.
"Those five-on-threes have to be automatic," Jason Spezza said. "They kill you if don't score on them. We did a good job to get them, we generated a lot offensively ... we got our chances."
It was a major turnaround from last April, when the Senators jumped on Fleury and the playoff-inexperienced Penguins for a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into Game 1 in Ottawa and went on to dominate the series despite losing the next game.
"We feel we're a much more mature team now. That's not our team that played in Game 1 last year," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We're different, much more improved, and I think we proved that tonight."
Two of Pittsburgh's most experienced players made certain that letdown didn't happen as Roberts, who turns 42 next month, exasperated the Senators yet again.
Roberts, out since Dec. 29 with a broken leg until returning Sunday in Philadelphia, kept Wade Redden away from the puck behind the Senators' net not long after the opening faceoff. That allowed Georges Laraque to grab the puck and return it to Roberts, who beat Martin Gerber in close with only 1:08 gone -- Roberts' first goal since a two-goal game Dec. 23 against Boston.
"You know he's going to throw it in front, and I just happened to catch Redden while he was still down on the ice," Roberts said. "I was fortunate to get position on him and get a quick shot away."
Sykora, who didn't score in Pittsburgh's final six regular-season games, made it 2-0 with 7½ minutes left in the first, working a two-on-one break with Malkin after defenseman Mike Commodore, pinching on the play, gave up the puck at mid-ice.
Malkin and Roberts also scored late in the third period, after it was clear there would be no Senators comeback.
Ottawa -- already without key injured regulars Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly -- played most of the final two periods without defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who was cut in the forehead by Malkin's slap shot midway through the second.
Play was stopped briefly to clean up a small pool of blood on the ice, but Volchenkov got up on his own and may have been saved from a more serious injury by his protective visor. Volchenkov couldn't return because the swelling prevented him from putting on his helmet, Murray said, but should be ready for Game 2.
With the Penguins nearly at full strength for the first time in months, defenseman Darryl Sydor was scratched. ... Pittsburgh won Game 1 of a playoff series at home for the first time since a 4-3 win over the Rangers in the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinals. ... Ottawa is 3-9-1 without Alfredsson this season. ... Gerber, who backed up Ray Emery as Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup finals last season, made 31 saves.