Pittsburgh Penguins beat Ottawa Senators with offensive outburst in Game 5
PITTSBURGH — It’s no secret the Penguins are a better team than the Ottawa, at least that’s what Senators coach Guy Boucher had to say after Pittsburgh’s 7-0 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.
“Everybody on the planet knows that,” Boucher said.
That’s why, in order to beat them, he said Ottawa has to be at its “very, very best.” On Sunday, the Senators weren’t even close. But for perhaps the first time this postseason, the Penguins were.
The result was a lopsided victory for Pittsburgh, one that saw the Penguins score four goals by the end of the first period. Through the first four games of the series, they had just six total goals.
It was a breakout offensive performance for a team that often looked tired and lackadaisical in the first four games of the series. They broke through the Senators’ 1-3-1 defense with efficiency and chased goalkeeper Craig Anderson — who had been stellar earlier in the series — to the bench.
The goal differential was the largest margin of victory in conference final since Detroit beat Colorado 7-0 in 2002.
“This was one of the more complete efforts for sure,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “We’ve had a few of them. This is one of them. I thought our guys had a readiness about them tonight that we’re going to need moving forward if we’re going to get to where we want to go.”
The victory gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead in the series and it’s now one win away from a second straight berth in the Stanley Cup final. The Penguins can earn the deciding victory in Game 6 in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“It looked easy when you scored seven goals, but it’s not an easy game,” Evgeni Malkin said. “The last four games, we can’t find our game, but I think today everything worked and it looked easy. I hope next game we know it’s different. They’ll change their game.”
Eleven Penguins ended the game with at least a point and seven players — Matt Cullen, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley — accounted for the goals. Carter Rowney, who had four assists in his first 38 NHL games, tied with Evgeni Malkin to lead Pittsburgh with three.
“We’ve been looking at video pretty hard on ways to score,” said Nick Bonino, who finished with two assists. “I think zone time hasn’t been an issue. I think the neutral zone has been as much of an issue as we thought it would be. We’ve been able to get into their zone pretty well.
“Hats off to them, they defend hard. They keep to the outside. We’ve looked for ways to get pucks to the net and get guys to the net. I think a lot of our goals even strength tonight were that.”
In the last two games — Pittsburgh won Game 4 3-2 in Ottawa — the Penguins finished with 35 and 36 shots, respectively. Those were the only two games this series they topped 30 shots and they had 30 shots just once against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
“I think we just want to continue to throw pucks at the net, get guys there and give us second opportunities, too,” Crosby said. “I think we’ve doing a lot of that especially the last couple of games and tonight got rewarded for it. They don’t always go in, but we gave ourselves a chance with the way we played.”