Another one bites the dust. See ya, Brian.
Too much offense, too much skill, too physical, too good. The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to overwhelm the Ottawa Senators and do so tonight from start to finish (with a few hiccups in between). It's clear that the Pens have too much firepower and are pretty much superior in all fashions to the Senators. Ottawa tried to muck, grind and do anything possible to stay close, but they just aren't in the Penguins class and about all observers realize it.
First period started out fairly calm. Evgeni Malkin blasted a low slapper off a Sergei Gonchar pass on the PP and that's all the scoring we saw. In the second, all hell broke loose for 8 total goals, and Brian Elliott would not survive. At first Sidney Crosby took a bump-pass from Chris Kunitz and buried it. 12 seconds later Matt Cooke got in the action. Crosby would take it in and throw an innocent enough looking puck on net that eluded Elliott and it was curtains for Ottawa's starting goalie at 4-0 Pens.
The Pascal Leclaire playoff era started a little better. Chris Neil drove the crease, knocked in a goal (then took a selfish penalty in the process) to make it 4-2. Daniel Alfredsson wired a slapper in the net of an Erik Karlsson pass. Maxime Talbot would score an awesome short-handed goal, chipping in Craig Adams' pass to take the Pens to 5-3. Less than a minute later Matt Cullen took a sensational pass from Jason Spezza and drilled it by Marc-Andre Fleury. Chris Kunitz would extend the Pens lead back to 2 when he got a Crosby pass and put it by Leclaire.
After that eight goal stanza, the teams would trade power play goals: Spezza for Ottawa, Jordan Staal for Pittsburgh. And that's all she wrote. 7-4 Penguins this game, 3-1 in the series.
As Bob Barker said to Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore: "Have you had enough? Now you've had enough, bitch." The Penguins are just about done with the Senators. One more strong effort for Pittsburgh and it's all formalities; thanks for coming out, see ya next October.
- Early in the second period Andy Sutton (who is an expert) rode Tyler Kennedy into the boards and TK wouldn't return. He seemed to favor a leg or "lower body" extremity as he gingerly went to the bench. Remains to be seen if he'll be sidelined for further game time, but Talbot filled in on his usual line.
- Managing minutes: Crosby played 10:27 at even strength, Malkin played 10:49. Four forwards played more and a bunch more were in that range. Looking long term, the Pens are setting things well, if the big dogs aren't taxed heavily early, reason says they'll be fresher later.
- Courtesy of Seth from Empty Netters: The Pens are 10-0 when Maxime Talbot scores a goal in the playoffs. Superstar. Talbot also has 7 points in his last six playoff games, including, you know, the Stanley Cup winner. Chicka-chee.
- Evgeni Malkin, in the shadows as usual, had a game high 9 shots and added 3 hits and was 50% on his 10 faceoffs. He's at his best when he's "galloping" around the ice, and he was at his best tonight.
- Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov go -3 a piece. Any doubt it was a good night for the Pens?
- Sidney Crosby: 2g, 2a, +3, a hit, a takeaway, a blocked shot, and has now been named the 1st star in the game in the last three games. It's way to early to be talking about Stanley Cup MVP's, but with 11 points in his first four games Mr. Sid is laying the groundwork.
So now it's back to Pittsburgh. After Ottawa felt good about taking 1 of 2 in Pittsburgh, the Pens go ahead and take 2 of 2 in Ontario. It's not technically over yet, but the Sens would have to win three straight now. They've been outclassed at every point over the past three games and it's not likely to change.
Bring on the casket match, Thursday, because only one team is going to get buried.