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Conference Final

Coach's analysis: Attention to detail key for Senators in Game 6

Former NHL assistant Jim Corsi says Ottawa must be better in all areas against Penguins

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Jim Corsi to break down the action from the Senators' perspective. Corsi will be checking in throughout the series.

Corsi, 62, is the former goaltending coach for the Buffalo Sabres (2001-14) and St. Louis Blues (2014-17). He also played 26 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1979-80 season.

PITTSBURGH -- The Ottawa Senators need to focus on attention to detail in every aspect of their game to avoid elimination from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

From 5-on-5 to power play to penalty kill, the Senators were off for the majority of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. It showed on the scoreboard in a 7-0 loss that put them behind 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

Game 6 is in Ottawa on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Ottawa plays a collapse and congest type of game and puck support in all places," former NHL goalie coach Jim Corsi said. "I consider the first period the tale of the tape and on a number of occasions you could see a Senators player flying out of the zone without the puck. The adjustments will be a redefinition of the execution of their game plan with regards to Pittsburgh's speed."

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Boucher on Sens' moving on after loss

Corsi thought the Senators were executing their game plan in the first 12-plus minutes of Game 5. He said the chances were only 3-2 in favor of the Penguins in that time. The problem is the Penguins scored on two to take a 2-0 lead. The Senators imploded from there. 

A big problem, Corsi said, was how the Senators reacted to faceoffs in the defensive zone. They won eight of 10 faceoffs in their defensive zone in the first period but the Penguins gained control of the puck on six of the Senators' wins.

Ottawa, in fact, won a defensive-zone faceoff 12 seconds before Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta scored to make it 1-0 at 8:14 of the first period. 

"Pittsburgh figured if they're not going to win the faceoff they're going to change their forecheck," Corsi said. "On a number of times [defenseman] Trevor Daley was pinching down. When they tried to swing away and come up the strong side, the weakside forward or the center went to the boards so they couldn't whip it up along the boards. When they went D to D [defenseman-to-defenseman pass] and the forward dropped down low on a couple of occasions, the weakside defenseman came down low to pinch at that forward so he just chipped it up the wall and the high F3 [third forward] punched it back down. It was, 'If we can't win the faceoff, we're going to forecheck the heck out of you.'" 

Even when the Senators had five players back in the defensive zone, Corsi said the Penguins looked faster because they were more decisive in their reads. 

"They were faster to react," Corsi said. "As far as the speed goes, it's the puck on the net, rebound, and then there is that feeling from Ottawa of, 'Where should I go now?' That little delay, where is the puck now, Pittsburgh is going to get it." 

Corsi said the Senators need to retreat to the front of the net if they're unsure of where the puck is or where they need to be.

"It has to be in the attention to detail to what has given them their success," Corsi said.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Kessel nets Crosby's dish for PPG

The same holds true on the power play and the penalty kill. 

The Senators are 0-for-29 on the power play in their past 10 games. They were 0-for-4 with four shots on goal in Game 5. They are 0-for-15 with 17 shots on goal in the conference final.

"When your power play struggles the standard approach is move the puck quickly, take a shot and look for loose change," Corsi said. "I think in [Senators defenseman Erik] Karlsson's case he is looking for that shot. But then you take a look at a play that occurred in Game 5. They went to a high umbrella, it went to the right side and I think it was [forward Bobby] Ryan who had it at the top of the circle. I said, 'He's going to launch it now.' He just took it, walked, walked, went through the dot, behind the net, Pittsburgh collapsed and the next thing you know it snuffed out a really good play. 

"It's a little bit of a reflection for how the game has gone for Ottawa. They have to be quicker to move the puck, more precise and throw pucks at the net."

The Senators are struggling with their precision on the penalty kill too. They have allowed five power-play goals in the past three games. The Penguins were 3-for-3 in Game 5.

Corsi said the Senators are getting too spread out on the penalty kill. 

Crosby scored a power-play goal on a deflection with nobody near him at 12:03 of the first period. He set up Phil Kessel for a power-play goal with a backhanded pass through the crease 50 seconds into the third period because the Senators were too high in the zone and didn't spot Kessel alone down low.

"The Senators collapse isn't bang-on," Corsi said. "Is it a reflection of the extra speed that Pittsburgh has? Or the necessary attention to detail on Ottawa's part?"

Corsi thinks it's both, but the Senators can control the attention to detail part. They better in Game 6 or they could be run right out of the playoffs. 

"It's a long series, the third round," Corsi said. "It's not only a test of skill it's a test of stick-to-it-iveness," Corsi said. "Fatigue makes us all weak. Both teams are fatigued. But who is going to be able to react with that in mind?"

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