Thursday 25th May, 2017
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Senators dominate Penguins, take 2-1 series lead

Sports Xchange - Thursday 18th May, 2017

OTTAWA -- Accused of playing boring defensive hockey, the Ottawa Senators showed they have, at the very least, a split personality.

The Senators scored 48 seconds into the game and chased Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with four goals on nine shots en route to a convincing 5-1 victory over the Penguins at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday.

The win gives Ottawa a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, with Game 4 slated for Friday night at Canadian Tire Centre.

"We've got the (personnel) and skill to play good offensive hockey when we get the opportunities," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "I think today we capitalized on the chances that we got."

Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot, Derick Brassard, Zack Smith and Kyle Turris scored for the Senators.

Craig Anderson, who lost his bid for a shutout when Sidney Crosby beat him on a deflection at 6:07 of the third, made 25 saves in the Ottawa net.

Matt Murray replaced Fleury in the Penguins goal at 12:42 of the first and went on to stop 19 shots. Murray, who backstopped Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup last spring, was seeing his first playoff action after getting injured in the warmup before the first game of round one.

"I felt good," Murray said. "Not the ideal circumstances by any means, but it felt good to shake some rust off a little bit."

The Senators lost Alex Burrows to a lower-body injury, but coach Guy Boucher was hopeful the winger would be able to play Friday.

Hoffman opened the scoring 48 seconds into the game when he banked a shot in off Fleury from behind the Penguins' goal line. And from there, the Senators were on their way. After a first-period explosion that had them up by four at the intermission, Turris scored the only goal of the second.

"Like always in the playoffs, I think we've been good at (having) short memories," said Fleury. "If it's a 2-1 loss or a 5-1 loss, we look at it the same way and just put it behind us and be ready for the next one."

The Senators, who won the series opener 2-1, were shut out 1-0 by Fleury in Game 2, when they went through a stretch of approximately 19 minutes without registering a shot on net. Undaunted, they swore to remain true to Boucher's system, while making a few adjustments to create more offense.

"Some nights it's going to be a little bit different ... you're not going to be able to put the puck in the net as easy as you want," said Karlsson, who picked up his first point of the series and wound up a plus-4 on the night. "But I think the whole game for us is to make sure we play equally as good both ways. It's something we've had to put a lot of focus on all year to get in the position we're in today. Whether we win 1-0 or 5-1 like today, I don't think it really matters. We still know what we have to do out there to be successful as a group."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan gave no indication on which goalie he would start in Game 4.

"I just think we've got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck," said Sullivan. "When you give up a goal that early in the game against a team that's playing at home, it gives their team a lot of energy. So I think we've got to be ready right from the drop of the puck, and we simply have to be better. We've got to be playing on our toes.

"It's tough when you give up that many goals in the first period. You don't really give your team a chance in the game. It wasn't like we gave up a lot of scoring chances. We didn't. But they all seemed to go in the net."

Boucher said his team responded to the loud support of the home fans.

"We were just alive," he said. "if you followed all of our games here, that's how we were. I mean, we've had a lot of those games in the playoffs. Just in front of our fans, I think we've got a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy."

The Senators, who haven't been to a conference final in 10 years, are now two wins from playing for the Stanley Cup.

"We know it's not going to be like that next game," said Hoffman. "We're going to go back and expect a one goal game. That's probably what it's going to be. You probably won't see a blowout like that."

NOTES: The Senators set a franchise playoff record by scoring three times in a span of 2:18. ... Senators D Marc Methot scored for the second time in eight games after going goalless for more than a year. ... The Penguins went with seven defensemen, adding veterans Trevor Daley and Mark Streit with Justin Schultz out. Daley was injured in Game 5 of the second-round series against Washington. Streit appeared for the first time in the playoffs. ... Schultz, injured F Bryan Rust and injured F Patric Hornqvist all skated Wednesday morning.

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