The Penguins and the Senators have met in the playoffs on several occasions. This will be the 5th time that the two teams will match up in the 11 years that the Penguins have gotten back into the playoffs since 2007.
In 2007, the young, rebuilding Penguins were humbled by a veteran Senators team that went to the Stanley Cup Final.
That Penguins team would find lightning in a bottle and finish the season with 105 points, good for almost a fifty point increase from the season before. Sidney Crosby would score 120 points as a 19-year old. Remarkable.
That Ottawa team ended up making it to the Stanley Cup Final. They were loaded with talent, from Daniel Alfreddson to Dany Heatley up front, and a defensive machine with players such as Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Wade Redden, and Andrej Meszaros. The Penguins young team really were humbled.
In 2008, the two teams would have a rematch. The Penguins were ready, and they got revenge and redemption.
Heading into the playoffs: a rematch with the Senators from a year earlier. But this time was different.
Chris Neil sucked then and he still sucks now. Some things never change.
In 2010, the defending champions squared off with the Senators for the 3rd time in 4 years and came away as the winner again.
For some reason, the Penguins and the Senators became common opponents in the playoffs for a several year stretch, and this year was no different.
The Pens opened their final postseason at the Igloo against the Sens, and it didn’t start well! A 5-4 loss in Game 1 had us tugging on our collars a bit. Fun fact though: Craig Adams went 82 games in 2009-10 without scoring a goal, and then scored one in Game 1 of the playoffs. Don’t ask me why I remember this.
When Game 2 started with a Peter friggin Regin goal just 18 seconds in off of a bounce from the stanchion, it was like, “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?”
I was at that game, and when Andy Sutton rolled into him, I thought Jordan Leopold was dead. Not even being dramatic. And no, I am not an expert.
Thankfully, Sidney Crosby had a signature moment, when he wore Jason Spezza out behind the Sens net to set up the game-winner.
The Pens would go on and win Game 3 and 4 as well, coming back home for Game 5, looking to close out the series and move on. Three periods of regulation, and into the third overtime and Matt Carkner of all people score a goal to keep the Senators hopes alive. Matt Carkner. Yes.
Heading into Game 6, it felt like all the momentum was on the side of the Senators. I think that can be a natural reaction to a multiple-OT loss. Those are just deflating for one side, and fantastic for the other.
It was looking like a Game 7 was on the horizon when the Pens were going into the 3rd period down 3-1. Bill Guerin had other ideas. Matt Cooke had other ideas. But most of all, Pascal Dupuis DID NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOUR BULLSHIT AND WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND.
And that was all she wrote. The Senators were a much more formidable opponent than they had been a year prior, but the Pens dug deep and came out on top.
After the Pens dug back to get past the Islanders, the Ottawa Senators were the next opponent — for the 4th time in 7 years. This Senators team was vastly different than the ones the Penguins faced in years past, and they weren’t even close to being up to the task.
The Penguins outmatched them en route to two wins at home to start the series before going to Ottawa for Game 3. The Senators would take Game 3 in 2 Overtimes, and I’m pretty sure they’re still blowing that damn horn.
A James Neal hat-trick en route to a 6-2 win to close out the series in Game 5 was a fun way to relax and enjoy some goal scoring. Little did we know, the goals would dry up significantly after this.
What will 2017 bring for this 5th matchup in 11 years? We’ll find out tomorrow night.