Senators blitz sluggish Pens for 2-1 series lead
OTTAWA, Ontario — Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zack Smith scored in a 2:18 span midway through the first period to chase goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Mike Hoffman opened the scoring 48 seconds in, and the Senators blew it open against the sluggish Penguins a few minutes later with the fastest three goals in team playoff history. Kyle Turris made it 5-0 late in the second period.
Sidney Crosby ended Craig Anderson’s shutout bid with a power-play goal in the third. Pittsburgh has scored a goal in each game in the series, dropping the opener 2-1 in overtime and winning the second 1-0.
Anderson finished with 25 saves. Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots, and Matthew Murray made 19 saves in relief.
Game 4 is Friday night in Ottawa.
Hosting their first Eastern Conference final game in 10 years, the Sens came out flying. Hoffman got it going by capitalizing on Turris’ shot that bounced awkwardly wide of the goal. Hoffman stuffed the shot, standing to the left of the goal, just between the post and right pad of Fleury.
Brassard got the first of three when he snatched Erik Karlsson’s dump-in and swung wide of the Pittsburgh goal. Bobby Ryan eventually gained possession down low and found Methot with a crafty pass. While his initial shot was stopped, the rebound bounced off Penguins defenseman Ian Cole and into the net. It was the second goal of the playoffs for Methot after he went scoreless in 68 games during the regular season.
Brassard added his fourth of the postseason less than two minutes later, taking advantage of the Senators’ offensive zone pressure before slipping behind the aging Mark Streit for the shot that beat Fleury.
Streit was making his playoff debut for the increasingly battered Pens, who lost Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust to upper-body injuries in Game 2. Pittsburgh, which did get Trevor Daley back from injury, also remained without injured winger Patric Hornqvist as well as No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang, who’s out for the season with a neck ailment.
Apparent miscommunication between the 39-year-old Streit and Cole led to Cole throwing the puck away shortly before Brassard’s goal.
Ottawa, looking crisp and confident, finished the flurry 24 seconds after Brassard’s goal, with Smith beating Fleury on a wrap-around, chasing Fleury from the game.
In question now is whether coach Mike Sullivan turns to Murray, who helped deliver the Pens a Cup last season and was excellent in his first full NHL season, for Game 4 or goes back to Fleury.
The crowd was delirious throughout the one-sided win and all the more so when their team got under the skin of the Penguins. At one point late in the first, Dion Phaneuf levelled former Maple Leafs teammate Phil Kessel. Ryan came by with a shove seconds later as Kessel waved his stick in the air at the Sens winger in apparent frustration.
Towel-waving fans chanted Kessel’s name and later cheered as Mark Stone mixed it up with Evgeni Malkin.