The Penguins were back at it tonight after two nights off, welcoming back the Ottawa Senators for game two of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-Final series between the two teams. With Pittsburgh having taken the first game 5 to 1, the Penguins were looking to go 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2009 while the Senators, who’ve never rebounded from being down in a series 2-0, were looking to even the series up.
The Penguins came out flying in the first, dominating through the first half of the first period. Lighting the lamp first this evening was Sidney Crosby with 3:16 off the clock through the first twenty. Picking up the puck in the neutral zone, Crosby would breeze past Jakob Silfverberg before zipping past Erik Karlsson and beating Craig Anderson with a snap through the five-hole. The goal earned Crosby his 100th playoff point in 75 career playoff games. The Senators would emerge unscathed from two penalty kills mid-period, and with 6:57 left in the first, Kyle Turris tied the game. With the puck at the side of the net, Turris snuck it in past Tomas Vokoun. The tie would last less than three minutes, the Penguins second goal coming courtesy of Crosby. Crosby carried the puck to the goal line where he snapped a hard, low shot. Anderson, anticipating a pass, moved from the post, allowing the puck to bounce off him and into the net. At the end of the first, the Penguins led 2 to 1 while outshooting the Senators 18 to 7.
With just 1:15 off the clock in the middle frame, Sidney Crosby would complete the natural hat trick to give the Penguins a 3 to 1 lead. After Erik Karlsson was whistled for a hook against Matt Cooke, the Penguins went to the man advantage where Crosby was able to beat Anderson for the tally. The goal was Anderson’s last of the night as he was pulled in favour of Robin Lehner. Just forty seconds after Crosby’s tally, the Senators pulled within once again, this time the goal credited to Colin Greening. Greening beat Deryk Engelland before snapping a shot into the high corner over Vokoun. The teams headed to 4-on-4 skating when Chris Neil was called for a cross check against Kris Letang who, in turn, was called for roughing after he retaliated. As the teams returned to 5-on-5, it was Guillaume Latendresse being called for boarding after hitting Evgeni Malkin head first into the boards. This opened up an opportunity for the Penguins to take a 4 to 2 lead, the tally credited to Brenden Morrow. Chris Neil would be whistled again for a slash, but this time the Penguins couldn’t capitalize. As the period wound down, Vokoun came up big TWICE stopping both Colin Greening and Corey Conacher on breakaways that easily could have tied the game. (They were saves you’d have to see to believe.) With the second horn, the Penguins held on to the 4 to 2 lead while continuing to outshoot the Senators 15 to 9.
2:01 into the third, the Senators pulled within a single goal yet again, this time the goal coming from Jean-Gabriel Pageau who was able to bank in on an open net when Vokoun was drawn out from his crease. The goal was followed by an Ottawa power play when Brooks Orpik was whistled for boarding. The Penguins successfully killed it off, and with seven minutes off the clock, the score remained 4 to 3 in favour of Pittsburgh. With just over five minutes left to play in regulation, Corey Conacher would be whistled for a hi-stick against Crosby, sending the Senators to a late penalty kill. Ottawa would emerge unscathed and the game would remain as is. As the play moved toward the Penguins end, the Senators would attempt to pull Lehner in favour of the extra attacker not once but twice before succeeding the third time. It would have no affect and the Penguins would take Game 2 by a score of 4 to 3, taking a series lead of 2-0.
Paul Martin led all skaters with 26:14 of ice time followed by Kris Letang with 24:15. Jarome Iginla tallied 8 shots on goal while Sidney Crosby had 6. Overall, the Penguins sent 42 shots toward Ottawa’s goaltenders while Vokoun faced 22.
The series will back up North and head to Ottawa for Game 3 on Sunday night.