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Eastern Conference Final | Penguins vs. Senators

NHL Insider

Senators set tone early, dominate Penguins in Game 3 win

Ottawa's struggling offense scores four times in first period

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- It took 48 seconds. Forty-eight seconds for the Ottawa Senators to assert that this game would not be like Game 1 or Game 2, would not be a game in which they struggled and searched for offense. 

That was made clear later in the first period when they added on at 10:34 and 12:28 and 12:52, scoring three more goals in a span of 2:18 to turn another potentially tight game into a rout.

The Senators answered all the questions that were asked on Tuesday, about where and how they would find offense against the Pittsburgh Penguins in this Eastern Conference Final, and then dominated Game 3 with a 5-1 win at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday, pushing the Senators ahead 2-1 in the best-of-7 series. 

"We were just alive," Senators coach Guy Boucher said.

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Senators series coveragePenguins coach Mike Sullivan doesn't commit to Game 4 goalie]

 

It was hard to argue with that. And it showed the Penguins that they are not the only ones who can score in this series. 

The Penguins have scored 44 goals in 15 games after managing just one in Game 3, courtesy of Sidney Crosby. The Senators have 41 goals in 15 games. The gulf is not nearly as wide as the perception of it is. 

"We've got the clientele and the individual skill to play good offensive hockey when we get the opportunities," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "I think today that we capitalized on the chances that we got. 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, but I think that the whole game for us is to make sure that we play this good both ways, something that we had 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 that it really matters. We still know what we have to do out there to be successful as a group."

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm3: Sens tally four times in dominant 1st

But it sure is fun to look up at the scoreboard and see a 4-0 lead midway through the first period.

It started with the initial push and a strange carom and ended with Mike Hoffman tucking the puck behind Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the left post at 48 seconds. 

"That's how we wanted to start," forward Kyle Turris said. "We had kind of a laid-back third period in [Pittsburgh] to finish the two games and we wanted to come out with a better start tonight, more energy offensively and put a little pressure on them."

That they did, with Hoffman's goal followed by scores from defenseman Marc Methot and forwards Derick Brassard and Zack Smith, the last knocking Fleury out of the game in favor of Matt Murray. 

The lead became 5-0 on a goal by Turris at 18:18 of the second period. 

The Senators asserted themselves and, in the process, caused a little soul-searching from the Penguins.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm3: Boucher talks about Sens' blowout win

"I just think we've got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "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."

The Senators were ready. The Penguins were not. 

"We played the way we wanted to play and got back to playing the style where we have more zone time in their zone and not defending as much," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "You could see right off the opening draw, the first probably five, six minutes, we really pushed with zone time, got down there and were able to generate offense with that. The start was really big for us."

The finish was just as big. The Senators didn't just dominate the first period. They did not let the Penguins back in the game. They did not allow them the third-period push they had in Game 2, did not allow them any opening. And when they did, goaltender Craig Anderson (25 saves) was there to close it. 

Even if the result -- the number of goals, the winning margin, the domination -- may not have been expected, the Senators did not allow the Penguins to find their game. They'll need to duplicate that in Game 4 here on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). 

"I would have said before the game it was going to be a one-goal game," Hoffman said. "They're a very good hockey club. It's just there was a lot of energy and emotion going around this dressing room coming back here, first game at home in the conference finals versus the defending champions.

"So we were excited. We were ready to go. It came out."

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