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Analysis: Pens Dominate Series

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

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It’s time to turn the lights out in Ottawa.

The Penguins ended the Ottawa Senators’ season with a 6-2 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center.

And the game, much like this series, wasn’t even close.

The Senators were given the moniker of Pesky Sens for their never-quit attitude. They gave it everything they could in the five-game series, but it wasn’t nearly enough against these Penguins.

The Senators just couldn’t compete with Pittsburgh’s depth, talent and scoring power.

“This series all along we’ve come out well in games, started well, dictated and put them back on their heels,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think we did that tonight as well.”

The series was a battle of the unstoppable force (Pittsburgh’s No. 1-ranked offense) and immovable object (Ottawa’s No. 2-ranked defense). The series was over and the unstoppable force is still moving.

Goaltender Craig Anderson was supposed to be the Senators’ difference maker, an All-Star netminder with the ability to steal the series. The Penguins made the superb Anderson look average, racking up 20 goals in five games and chasing him twice.

Pittsburgh outscored Ottawa by a count of 22-11 and if not for a defensive zone breakdown in the last 30 seconds of regulation in Game 3, this series could have ended in Ottawa with the assistance of a broom.

“I hope they don’t bill us for the clinic,” Senators head coach Paul MacLean said after the Game 5.

The Senators entered Game 5 facing an uphill battle. Their task was to climb Mount Everest or perish.

But base camp digressed as the Penguins skated out to a 3-0 lead halfway through the second period on goals from Brenden Morrow, who returned to the lineup after missing Game 4, James Neal and Kris Letang.

The Senators clawed back with a goal from Milan Michalek to cut it to 3-1.

But the Penguins returned the favor and nailed the dagger in the heart of the Senators when Evgeni Malkin scored on a breakaway with 29.2 seconds left in the second period to make it a 4-1 game.

Goodnight, Ottawa.

NHL regulations demand that every game require a full 60 minutes so the teams skated in the third period. The last 20 minutes was more of the same from the first 40.

Neal added two more goals to record his first career playoff hat trick, and his fifth goal in the last six periods, before lining up to shake the hands of the Ottawa Senators at center ice.

“I don’t think there was a time where we didn’t dictate and play that type of game,” Bylsma said.

But Game 5 was merely a formality, crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s and getting the proper signatures to make the series victory official.

This series really ended during a 1:45-minute stretch in the third period of Game 4 in Ottawa. During that sequence, the Penguins scored three goals to take a 7-2 lead and exerted their sheer will and dominance.

The Senators had to win Game 4 if they wanted any chance to steal the series. They didn’t just lose. They were blown out.

They never recovered.

Even their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, admitted defeat following that contest. When asked if the Senators could beat the Penguins in three straight games, he responded, “Probably not.”

Forget winning three straight games. The Senators couldn’t even beat the Penguins once more.

“At the end you finish 6-2, you feel pretty good about that game,” Bylsma said. “We’re happy to get the fourth win and move on.”

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