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{UAH} Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Senators blow out Penguins to take series lead

Stanley Cup playoffs three stars:  Senators blow out Penguins to take series lead

Brandon Schlager
Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan© (Getty Images) Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan

Borrrrrring. No longer.

The same Senators who lulled many a hockey fan to sleep to begin the Eastern Conference finals sent the series into a frenzy with a five-goal outburst in Wednesday's Game 3, converting their 5-1 victory into a two-games-to-one lead over a Penguins team that for the first time these playoffs crumpled under the weight of mounting injury woes.

For watching such a stodgy group, Canadian Tire Centre was raucous, hosting its most important hockey game in 10 years, chanting for six.

The Sens were quick to disprove critics of the dull, bend-but-don't break trap system they've deployed to slow the defending Cup champs with a goal 48 seconds into the game and three more in a span of 2:18 later in the first period. Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh featured four goals in total.

Mike Hoffman got the party started.

The Sens winger was in the right place, right time when a friendly puck caught the end boards and Hoffman exploited an opening between Marc-Andre Fleury and the near post.

Then, with 10:34 gone in the period, Marc Methot's second goal of the playoffs set off the quickest three-goal run in Senators playoff history. By the time Zack Smith's bank-shot wraparound goal made it 4-0 Ottawa with 7:08 to play, Pittsburgh pulled Fleury, who allowed the trio of goal on three successive shots, in favor of Matt Murray, who who last saw game action April 4.

Sidney Crosby was in danger of going three games without scoring a point for the first time all season until his power-play goal at 13:53 of the third period got the Pens on the board. The captain's effort to spark a late rally was for naught, however, and the Pens are left licking some serious wounds.

Top scoring defenseman Justin Schultz and top-six forwards Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist, who missed Game 2, didn't dress in the blowout.

Trevor Daley, injured since Game 5 of the second round, and Mark Streit, who hasn't played at all this postseason, made their returns but were largely ineffective on a Pens defensive unit that seemed discombobulated in its own end all night.

In all, it's an alarming loss for Pittsburgh, but not a damning one. At least not yet.

Ottawa went 0-for-4 on the power play and hasn't scored with the man advantage in eight straight games. A case could be made that the majority of the goals the Pens gave up were fluky or the product of a rusty defense that could right itself before Friday's critical Game 4, which should be all-telling.

Who said this series isn't interesting?

Three stars

3. Marc Methot, Senators — Methot, who didn't have a goal all season, now has two in the playoffs and added an assist Wednesday, officially enacting revenge on Crosby for maiming his pinky finger earlier this season. Methot also was a plus-4 for the game.

2. Bobby Ryan, Senators — With a pair of assists, Ryan has 13 points through 15 games in these playoffs. It took him 28 games during the regular season to reach 13 points.

1. Craig Anderson, Senators — Anderson has stopped 78 of 81 shots in the Eastern Conference finals after a 25-save showing in Game 3. This against the NHL's highest-scoring offense from the regular season. He's been remarkable.

Gotta see it

Kyle Turris gets fulls marks for staying with the puck to score the Senators' fifth goal of the game.

Thursday's game to watch

Western Conference finals: Ducks at Predators, Game 4, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Predators lead 2-1) — Nashville turned this series up a notch in a dominant Game 3 win, even if the 2-1 score didn't indicate it. Anaheim is on its heels, and it won't be an easy task to climb out of a 3-1 series hole if it comes down to that.

Also See: 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"Even a small dog can piss on a tall building" Jim Hightower

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