The Penguins have injury issues- Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz can't answer the bell for this game after getting knocked out in Game 2, and Patric Hornqvist remains out. So the team utilizes an extra defenseman and plays with 11 forwards. Mark Streit gets to make his 2017 playoff debut and Trevor Daley is back after missing the last 3 games with injury.
Daley and Streit return to the lineup as the Penguins go with seven defensemen. pic.twitter.com/jW2yzFPmlY— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 17, 2017
The Senators start off fast early and the Pens are just kind of lackasdical in their defensive zone. A bit of bad luck with this puck taking a bounce off the outside of Nick Bonino's skate then a crazy hop off the boards right in front to Mike Hoffman who is in front of the net, compared to Olli Maatta who is not. Hoffman banks it past Marc-Andre Fleury to open the scoring less than a minute into the game.
1-0...already. pic.twitter.com/P26CihP6VX— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) May 18, 2017
Ottawa keeps playing well and aggressively and they get another bounce, Marc Methot steps up and shoots, Fleury stops the puck but it bounces out and down to Ian Cole who accidentally sees the puck hit his skate and trickle past Fleury who kicks at it into his own net. 2-0 just like that.
He's a pinball wizard— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) May 18, 2017
There has to be a twist.
2-0 Senators. pic.twitter.com/kweVUNTf3Z
The onslaught continues, Bonino can't keep up with Bobby Ryan who makes a nice pass down to Derick Brassard who has a slam dunk goal due to Mark Streit not being in any semblance of position to defend against a wide-open man in front of the net. Oh. 3-0.
Why not make it 4. Zach Smith lobs a dump-in high off the glass and outraces Brian Dumoulin to catch up with it. He somehow gets Fleury out of the net enough to go wide and wrap it in behind him. 4-zippy.
Zack Smith pours it on, makes it 4-0 Senators…Fleury pulled in favor of Murray pic.twitter.com/ZVLXdIo9BC— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 18, 2017
3 goals in 2:18 (and 4 in less than 20 minutes) means a goalie change. Tough one for Fleury. He's brought them here, tough to pile too much on him with a couple of bad bounces and a couple poor defensive plays but so it goes.
The refs don't call this hit well away from the puck in a 4-0 game, because hey why start trying to enforce any sort of rules now, right?
Dion Phaneuf goes after old friend Phil Kessel pic.twitter.com/v0OkPMbqc7— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 18, 2017
Shots 12-10 Ottawa. Score at 4-0 seems about out of reach.
The refs start calling penalties...But on the Penguins. Can't argue the calls made but nice job starting on them, stripes. Anyways Erik Karlsson makes some cool plays but Matt Murray makes some stops and looks prettay prettay good.
The Pens get a PP of their own and get some zone time and looks at the net but Craig Anderson is big when he has to be. Jake Guentzel hits yet another post.
Kyle Turris gets on the board, going all hold-to-slingshot on Cole to get some space and score backhand.
Kyle Turris sticks with it, makes it 5-0 Sens pic.twitter.com/SsP73XZsPq— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 18, 2017
A Senator bumps Murray late in the period, they call that penalty but Evgeni Malkin also sends himself to the box by exchanging gloved punches with Mark Stone who also gets a penalty for it.
Meh who cares.
At least Crosby gets off the schnide and taps in a PPG. Nice stick lift on Marc Methot.
Crosby taps one in from close range on the power play. pic.twitter.com/bQps4mZx7S— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 18, 2017
Time ticks away and luckily at least no one gets visibly injured in garbage time.
- Tough night for Fleury. The first goal was a bad bounce (maybe he could have played tighter to the post?) just an unfortunate goal to surrender and that sort of set the tone for the game in what would follow. The 2nd goal was more bad luck, the 3rd Streit let him down and the 4th is one he probably wants back. Now, of course, the million dollar question is which goalie to start for Game 4 but I'm sure that will be widely debated over the next 2 days.
- Unless of course after this game Sullivan is smart enough to quench the flames and just name Fleury his starter for next game. Not staying up for his presser but I'm sure it will be good comment fodder. If Sullivan plays it coy and doesn't want to tip his goalie hand, that's his choice but it'll fan the flames and speculation, for sure.
- In a cruel irony, the Pens kept up, mostly, in scoring attempts. But not in goals.
- Luckily a garbage goal to avoid Sidney Crosby having 3 straight scoreless games for the first time this season. Luckily so that point doesn't have to be mentioned a million times in the next 2 days.
- The Penguins just have too many passengers, too many guys coasting along. Maybe it's injury, maybe it's fatigue, maybe it's bumps and bruises, who knows. About other than the big guns, no one really keeps the legs churning or was able to make basic plays. Usually they've gotten more (or maybe just better luck) from guys like Cole and Dumoulin too. Maatta/Daley, poor together all night, were victims again as well.
- But guys like Bonino...Hagelin...Sheary...Kunitz...Even Cullen..All had big moments last year. All basically invisible at best tonight, as for much of the playoffs. Need more from everyone but especially guys like that.
Obviously this one got out of control and a depleted Pens team laid an egg. Still, no mercy will be asked for, or received so no sense of holding on too much to this one. All Pittsburgh can do is forget this one and put their best foot forward for Friday night to try and tie the series at 2 and take home-ice advantage back to PA for Game 5.