Five minutes into game three and looked like it was on its way to a new series. The 2-0 deficit that the Penguins held over the Senators looked as if it would fall victim to the Eastern Conference curse held on the previous night, when all two game leads were cut down to one.
But that was just in the first period.
Heading into the second period in a scoreless tie, the close chances of the first already signified that the intensity level was far beyond 11. Hard hits, miraculous saves and finely tuned passes were nothing far from expectations; playoff hockey at its finest.
The Senators struck first in what had possessed the hints of a low scoring affair when the Penguins failed to clear the zone on a bouncing puck.
Hungry as ever, Max Talbot notched the first of four Penguins goals on a backhand shot past Gerber.
Off to the locker room tied at one, both teams were still aware of the fact it was still anyone's game. On the opening faceoff of the third, Captain Crosby paved the way 12 seconds in with the go-ahead goal. One minute and eighteen seconds later, seasonal sleeper Jordan Staal awoke from hibernation to add some insurance to the one goal lead. Any hopes of an Ottawa retaliation were quickly doused when Marion Hossa popped the mesh eight minutes into the third. The goal ended his playoff dry spell which many naysayers have held against him since his days in Ottawa.
Monday's win puts the Penguins in a commanding 3-0 series lead. Despite Ottawa's attempts to diminish motivation amongst the Penguins' locker room with pictures of last year's defeat hanging loud and proud in the warm-up area, the Penguins sought motivation and can officially seal the deal Wednesday night in Ottawa.
The series ends Wednesday. Puck drops at 7pm.
(*) denotes a game scratch