Thoughts, musings, and observations from the Pens' 7-0 win against the Senators in Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena.
* Remember when slow starts were an issue for the Pens? Well, today they had the fastest start we've seen from them this entire postseason. Their first period exemplified Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. They played with so much speed the entire length of the ice, in all three zones. They were skating and moving the puck and completely overwhelmed the Senators.
* One sequence in particular was a perfect example of that. The line of Scott Wilson, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel and the two defensemen on the ice with them did an unbelievable job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and working it around. They had the Senators so overwhelmed that they were able to get a change and send Nick Bonino's line out, who continued to keep them pinned and ended up getting Pittsburgh's third goal of the night (and second in just over a two-minute span). One of the absolute best stretches we've seen from the Pens all year, regular and postseason combined. When all was said and done, they had the Sens trapped for about a minute-and-a-half.
* What was so impressive was how they kept that pace for the entire game. The biggest challenge of getting out to such a lead so early is continuing to have that aggressive mindset and not sitting back. The Pens made sure to keep their collective foot on the gas as they continued to drive possession and create a ton of offensive zone time. Early in the second, they had another long shift where Mark Streit actually had to hold onto the puck while his forwards changed. He found Matt Cullen coming onto the ice, and he scored the fifth goal.
* The Pens' third line was by far their best. Just absolutely dominant. Nick Bonino and Carter Rowney had some instant chemistry when Mike Sullivan put them back together last game, and adding Bryan Rust put them over the edge when it came to producing points as they combined for seven. Rust's speed and his ability to get in on the forecheck got them going, and from there, they did a tremendous job of cycling and creating down low.
* Speaking of Sullivan - he just continues to do an unbelievable job of coaching this team. He's got his finger on the pulse of this group and keeps pushing the right buttons. He's been making a lot of adjustments game to game and they're paying off. I thought his decision to keep Josh Archibald in the lineup and make Conor Sheary a healthy scratch was the right one. Sheary is a good player, but he'd be the first to admit he's been struggling while Archibald is skating with fresh legs and has been an aggressive presence for the Pens.
* The Pens continued to dominate on special teams. They went 3-for-3 on the power play, while Ottawa has yet to get a goal on the man-advantage this series. The Pens have now scored on the power play in three straight games, which is especially impressive considering Justin Schultz and Patric Hornqvist both out. Daley - who scored and added an assist - told me afterward they were just trying to take what was given and weren't trying to overpass or overthink or do too much. It certainly worked out.
* Matt Murray was solid in his second straight start. Ottawa's a good team and they still had their chances even in a lopsided game like this. He came up with every save and earned a shutout as a result. From the top to the bottom of the lineup, every player came ready to play and did their job.