This sums it up.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Daniel Alfredsson says it's "probably not" feasible for the <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23sens">#sens</a> to beat the <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23pens">#pens</a> three straight games.</p>— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) <a href="https://twitter.com/reporterchris/status/337393270676127744">May 23, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>In a subsequent question, Daniel Alfredsson made it clear the <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23sens">#sens</a> wouldn't quit. "We're going to go out and play one hell of a game."</p>— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) <a href="https://twitter.com/reporterchris/status/337401206735515653">May 23, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
A shocking quote to say the least, especially from a captain. Many are arguing that that could be Daniel Alfredsson's way of firing up the Senators. Who knows. What I do know is the Sens, usually dominant in the third period, looked defeated and ready to pack it in.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. This series isn't over.
The beginning of the game is all the proof you need.
It's funny now seeing the recaps talk about how the Pens cruised through the game which wasn't the case from the start. In fact, after Milan Michalek netted his shorty, the first of the game, the pangs of dread struck. Was it going to be one of those games? we thought. Some panicked, but most settled for that discomfort that we experienced following Alfredsson's shorthanded goal in Game 3.
That lasted through the first period. Then in the opening minutes of the second period, Chris Kunitz pulled a Tyler Kennedy, cherry-picking on the blue line, and finished a breakaway through Craig Anderson's five hole. Suddenly, he no longer looked like Jaroslav Halak in 2010. From then on, the Pens' offense took over and the pesky Sens were nowhere to be seen.
Jussi Jokinen and Beau Bennett got their first taste of the Sens, replacing Tanner Glass and the injured Brenden Morrow. I wasn't overwhelmed by their presence but they weren't underwhelming either. Bennett made some great passes and had a few smart plays on the breakout. Jokinen was a wizard in the faceoff dot as we expected, though from the looks of Sidney Crosby's numbers, it looks like Kyle Turris has finally been solved which solves a lot of the faceoff issues.
Speaking of Crosby, what a game from him. He was a -2 at the end of the first, but that hardly described what he was doing on the ice. Easily the Pens' most hungry player from the start, Crosby was being himself and creating a lot of chances for himself but couldn't finish. He had a glorious opportunity, an open shot with plenty of space to tuck it in, only Chris Phillips made a great toe save.
Luckily Crosby had the last laugh. Not sure what more you can say about Crosby's surgical skill. Kennedy should be credited with two assists on that goal, forcing Erik Condra to turnover the puck in the neutral zone and sending Crosby on his way to another spot on ESPN's Top Plays.
James Neal looked especially on point, solidified by his three-point night. I remember thinking after the Game 3 loss that if the Sens had to win a game, it would be that one because of the two-day break before the next game. I'm beginning to think it benefited Neal even more. Whatever nagging injuries that carried over from the Islanders series seem much better. It was nice to see our power play sniper get one on the power play.
My favorite move of the game had to be Bylsma putting Paul Martin on the top power play unit. Who would've thought that a stay-at-home defenseman would be just what the ailing power play needed? Martin brings a calmness to the back line, something that has been desperately needed with the Pens giving up two short handed goals in as many games. When you aren't thinking about preventing goals, that usually means you can focus on scoring them.
This game felt like a mental battle more than anything else. Kunitz's goal was all it took for the floodgates to open and for the Pens to turn Anderson into an ordinary being. At this point, the only team that can beat the Pens is themselves. It's not even close.
Prove Alfredsson right. Finish them.