RECAP: Penguins Eliminate the Pesky Sens in Game Five

Forget about style; worry about results.
– Bobby Orr.

After taking a 3 to 1 series lead against the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night in Ottawa, the Penguins returned to Pittsburgh to open the doors of the Consol Energy Center to the Sens for Game 5. The Penguins were riding on the momentum of a 7 to 3 victory propelled by a dominating third period while the Senators, for their part, were banking on the drive of desperation to keep their playoff dreams alive.

While both teams wanted to come out swinging, the ice was heavily tilted in favour of the Penguins, dominating play and pinning the Senators to their own zone. The first (and only) goal of the period for Pittsburgh game just over six minutes into the game. Credited to Brenden Morrow, the goal would be reviewed as it rebounded off of his skate and into the net behind Craig Anderson. A phone call to Toronto would rule the goal good and the Penguins took the lead. With 13:41 gone, Sidney Crosby would be called for a hook (although picking the pocket of an opposing player with the puck usually isn’t a hook,) sending the Senators to the penalty play. The Penguins penalty kill proved too much for the man advantage and they emerged unscathed with just over four minutes left to go. With the first horn, the Penguins remained ahead by a goal while outshooting Ottawa 12 to 10.

The Penguins continued to force the momentum in their favour through the second, tilting the ice in their favour. Five minutes into the middle, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau was whistled for interference, sending Pittsburgh to their second power play. It would take some time but the Penguins did capitalize on the man advantage with James Neal tallying their second of the night. A shot from Kris Letang bounced before falling at the goal line where Neal was able to jam it into the crease following a sprawling dive. Once again, a call to Toronto was made and once again, the call on the ice stood and the goal remained. The teams headed to four-on-four play when Chris Neil was whistled for interference and a minute later Evgeni Malkin earned two minutes for a hold. It wasn’t all bad news, however, as Kris Letang increased the Penguins lead to 3 and 0 with a shot from the slot. The Penguins head back to the penalty immediately following Malkin’s release when Douglas Murray was whistled for delay of game. Milan Michalek seized the opportunity, getting the Senators back in the game with Ottawa’s first of game. A pass from behind the net from Jason Spezza allowed Michalek to go forehand and then backhand before beating Tomas Vokoun.  With a minute and twelve left in the middle frame, the teams headed to four-on-four hockey once again when Chris Kunitz and Ottawa’s Kyle Turris were given matching penalties, Kunitz for a slash and Turris for a hold. It proved to be Evgeni Malkin’s moment to shine. With 29.2 seconds left to go before the buzzer, a backcheck in the neutral zone forced a turnover allowing James Neal to gain possession of the puck before sending it down the line to streaking Malkin who had no one standing in his way besides Anderson. And Anderson was not stopping him. With that, Pittsburgh headed into the third up 4 to 1.

The parade to the penalty box began in the third period. Less than a minute into the final frame, Daniel Alfredsson was whistled for a hook. Ottawa would successfully ride out their penalty kill. This was followed by a slash against Chris Neil who tried to get something started with Douglas Murray. Murray was having none of it, resulting in the man advantage to Pittsburgh. Thirty seconds into the Neil penalty, Kyle Turris was whistled for a slash while Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin earned two for retaliatory roughing. Nothing would come of any of these advantages but not to be outdone, Matt Cooke would follow with a slash of his own with 7:49 off the clock. Ottawa couldn’t capitalize and halfway through the third the Penguins maintained their 4 to 1 lead. Pittsburgh pulled ahead by yet another goal – the second of the night for James Neal. Unassisted, Neal would get the puck toward the net and send it toward Anderson where it would bounce off an Ottawa defender and into the net. With 6:28 left in the third, Kyle Turris cut the Penguins lead to three goals with Ottawa’s second of the night, beating Vokoun top shelf for the tally. While it brought a little momentum to the Senators, James Neal earned Pittsburgh sixth of the night – his third of the game – and the hat trick with a drag and snap on Anderson.

That would do it. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now headed to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2009 and with a home ice victory.

Kris Letang led all skaters with 24:19 of icetime while Paul Martin had 23:39. Kris Letang tallied 6 shots on goal while Sidney Crosby and James Neal each had 5.  The Penguins sent 33 shots toward Anderson while Vokoun faced 31.

The Penguins will have a few days off before the beginning of the Conference Finals, facing either the Boston Bruins or the New York Rangers.