Senators strike early, take 2-1 NHL series lead
Los Angeles (AFP) – The Ottawa Senators, best known for stifling defense, went on an offensive explosion Wednesday, scoring four first-period goals en route to a 5-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins in game three of their NHL playoff series.
Ottawa used a barrage of scoring to chase starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the net early, then breezed to a lopsided victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Every line, every pair, we just competed really hard, and we put pucks behind them. We capitalized on some chances, and it’s just good to see that every line chipped in,” said Ottawa forward Derick Brassard.
Ottawa usually wins games by one or two goals but they came into Wednesday’s contest knowing they had to create more offense, after failing to register a shot on goal for almost 19 minutes in a game two loss on Monday.
Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot, Derick Brassard, Zack Smith and Kyle Turris scored for the Senators.
Sidney Crosby replied for the injury-depleted Penguins, who trailed 5-0 after two periods.
The Senators chased Fleury with four goals on nine shots in the first 13 minutes of the game. Fleury was replaced by Matt Murray, who made 19 saves.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said early mistakes cost them the game.
“We’ve got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck,” said Sullivan.
“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,” he said.
“It wasn’t like we gave up a lot of scoring chances. We didn’t. But they all seemed to go in the net.”
The Penguins lost another of top defensemen when Justin Schultz joined Kris Letang on the sidelines with a shoulder injury in game two.
So the 39-year-old Mark Streit stepped in as a replacement on Wednesday. Streit had one assist.
The Penguins were also without winger Bryan Rust, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Monday’s 1-0 victory.
Craig Anderson made 25 stops in the Senators’ net. He lost his bid for a shutout when Crosby deflected a Phil Kessel shot though his legs just over six minutes into the third.
Sullivan said he hasn’t made up his mind who will start in goal for Pittsburgh in game four.
“I haven’t even gotten there yet,” he said. “We’re still trying to digest this game that we just played. We’ll sleep on it.”