PITTSBURGH -- Considering what had just happened, maybe Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher's postgame assessment wasn't all that surprising.
"We know they're a better team," Boucher said of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "Everybody knows that on the planet. They're the Stanley Cup champions. They're the best team in the League. That's no secret."
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Anybody watching Pittsburgh defeat Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday would have to say the same thing, but not because the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season or because they're considered to be the elite of the elite in the NHL.
Boucher might be trying to play the underdog card again, just like he did in the second round against the New York Rangers, now that the Senators trail the best-of-7 series 3-2 and face elimination in Game 6 in Ottawa on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Boucher on Sens' moving on after loss
But with due respect to the Penguins, who have been the quicker team and the aggressors in each of the past two games, obvious reasons why they have outscored Ottawa 10-2 in winning both, the Senators leave Pittsburgh knowing they didn't give themselves a chance in Game 5.
They were down 4-0 after the first period. Their fingerprints are all over each of the goals against.
"We were on our heels," goalie Craig Anderson said. "They came out of the gate and they were good. Tip your hat to them, they were good and we were not on our game."
A turnover in the defensive zone by forward Mike Hoffman, who could have easily chosen to make the simple play and get the puck out, resulted in Pittsburgh taking a 1-0 lead on defenseman Olli Maatta's goal at 8:14 of the first period.
A penalty on forward Mark Stone for slashing that negated Ottawa's power play gave way to the Penguins scoring the first of their three power-play goals at 12:03. It was Sidney Crosby with his second in as many games. Crosby, by the way, has five points in the past three games.
"Once you get put on your heels they get momentum, you start playing with a little bit of tension in your stick, in your hands and sometimes the easy play is difficult to find," Anderson said. "We gave them the puck numerous times when we had chances to get the puck out and that was the direct result of most of their goals."
He's right about that.
Ottawa's inability to clear the puck out of its defensive zone -- twice -- allowed the Penguins to keep the puck in for 1:26 before Bryan Rust made it 3-0 at 16:04. The Penguins had six shot attempts, including three on goal, during that 86-second possession.
"We were taking on some water," Ryan said. "That was one of those ones you just try to collapse. Really throughout that shift, I don't think they had many shots but they were all over the puck and cycling and that wears you out. We have a chance to get it out, me, and it goes right under my feet and before you can even turn around it's in the back of the net. I don't think that was the defining goal."
Video: Penguins blank Senators in Game 5 for 3-2 series lead
But Ryan agreed that the sequence defined the Senators' afternoon.
"Yeah, that one did," he said. "We were in our zone like that countless times. Countless times we were watching them around the outside and eventually you get too tired and they get inside and get the chances."
Or they get chances like they got on their fourth goal, when again the Senators couldn't clear the puck out at the point. The Penguins got it low and forward Scott Wilson banked the puck in off of Anderson at 18:17.
"It was lots of turnovers, just was uncharacteristic of us," center Kyle Turris said. "In a game like this, we can't do that. You can't do that in playoffs, let alone the third round of the playoffs and a very important Game 5. We won't be doing that next game."
How do they know that?
How can Turris say that with confidence when the Senators have done things like that, turnovers and penalties and failed penalty kills and playing on their heels, for the past two games, save for the third period of Game 4, when they were already trailing 3-0 and played desperate and better?
"We've won two games against them," Turris said, explaining his confidence. "We were tied 2-2 going into [Game 5]. Just because they had one game that was a blowout, doesn't mean they're a better all-around team than we are."
But their coach said otherwise. He did so as part of a larger point.
"We know to beat that team we need to be at our very, very best," Boucher said. "And we were not."
So they have to get it back in Game 6, just like Pittsburgh got it back after losing 5-1 in Game 3. Ironically, the Penguins' resiliency from earlier in the series is now a lesson, and a rallying cry, for the Senators.
"It's one game," Turris said. "We did something similar to them a couple games ago. They rebounded and we have to do the same."