Anderson shines as Senators beat Penguins 2-1, force game 7

Posted on May 24 2017 - 10:49am by Mike Warren
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Senators force game 7

Going into game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals the Pittsburgh Penguins have the chance to reach the Stanley Cup finals in back to back years for the 3rd time in franchise history. All that is standing in their way is a less talented, excitement killing, hockey life squeezing force known as the Ottawa Senators. For much of this series Ottawa has tried to hold, trap, chose and cheap shot their way into beating Pittsburgh. For a few games, it looked like it was working. And then game 5 happened.

As everyone knows, Pittsburgh completely dominated game five both territorially and on the scoreboard. At times it looked like the Penguins were toying with the Senators.

They got to Craig Anderson, chased him from the net in racking up seven goals and exposed the weaknesses that Ottawa could not cover up.

Now in game 6, Pittsburgh hopes to put the nail in the coffin.

For Ottawa, the plan is simple, hold one and somehow win this forcing a game seven where anything can happen.

With both Derek Brassard and Erik Karlsson coming back after having left game five early expect Ottawa to come out fighting. Thier style should be to try again to force a trapping low scoring game and pray they can come out on top.

And for the Senators, that’s all they can do, pray. Coach Guy Boucher said it himself that the Penguins are the NHL-best team and clearly better than his own squad.

Whether it was gamesmanship or just some psychological babble by Boucher, most pundits would agree that he is right on point.

The Pittsburgh injury list is still long. Kuhnhackl, Ruhweidel, Schultz, and Hornqvist are still out. A game 6 victory means is that all the guy with injuries gets a long layoff. They would probably have their most healthy team in a while for the Stanely Cup Finals should they win this game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan turned things around in this series when he had the Pens step up the forecheck. Also, his decision to replace Fleury with Murray was pure guts.

MAF was the sole reason Pittsburgh made it past rounds 1 and 2 and to pull him shows how much Sullivan trusts Murray but also how much he knows his team.

In net for the Sens was Craig Anderson and for the Penguins ole Matt Murray.

This one would play out exactly as the Senators needed it to force a game 7. Ottawa would gut out a 2-1 win getting exceptional goaltending and timely scoring to get the win.

That and the referees taking away a Penguins goal and allowing Sidney Crosby to get completely mugged the entire game.

The night kicked off with a touching tribute to those affected by the attacks in Manchester.

Once the game started, Pittsburgh and Ottawa came out and traded chances in a pretty even first period.

After Pittsburgh had handed the Sens the worst loss in franchise history, Ottawa recovered well in the opening 20 minutes of game 6.

Despite some chances, Pittsburgh was unable to get on the board in the first. Ottawa could not score on Matt Murray as the period ended in a 0-0 tie.

Mark Stone probably had the best chance as he knocked a puck out of mid-air and towards Murray. A great display of hand-eye coordination ended though with the biscuit ringing off the post.

Pittsburgh would head into the 2nd period and ramp up the energy. The Penguins would completely dominate the 2nd period outshooting the Sens 23-10.

It looked like the Pens had scored to make it 1-0 during four on four play early in the 2nd.

After taking a pass from Crosby, Dailey found himself wide open in the shot. His shot was stopped by Anderson, but Dailey continued to drive to the net.

He kept digging and eventually from his knees made a tremendous individual play to jam the puck past Anderson.

1-0 Penguins or so it would seem. That was until the Sens challenged and the goal was waved off by the men in Toronto citing goaltender interference.

Pittsburgh would get on the board just a few minutes later on a great individual effort by Malkin.

Geno would fight off a check behind the net and then wheel in front of the Senators net. His initial shot would be stopped, but he would quickly grab the rebound and on the backhand tuck it behind Anderson for a 1-0 lead.

Bobby Ryan took advantage on a 5-3 after Ron Hainsey and Ian Cole were both sent off for infractions.

It was a classic five on three goal, as Ottawa just controlled the puck in the Penguins zone. Kyle Turris played catch with Erik Karlsson and holding the puck at the top of the diamond was able to find Ryan just below the faceoff dot for the one-timer.

Ryan cranked it and beat Matt Murray just inside the post for a tie game.

Heading to the third tied 1-1 had every Penguin fan nervous despite outplaying the Senators for much of the second.

Those nerves came to fruition when Mike Hoffman scored on a slap shot just 1:34 into the 2nd to give Ottawa the lead.

It was a goal you don’t see Murray give up much and was not anything fancy. Hoffman just took a pass from Fredrik Claesson and buried a perfect slap shot right over the glove of Murray.

Craig Anderson would do the rest as he kept the Penguins off the board. Stopping 45 of 46 shots and having his team do just enough the Senators were able to win the game and force game 7 Thursday at PPG Paints arena.

STATS

THOUGHTS

1. For an Ottawa to gain a victory, they needed to win the special teams battle. And they did

Ottawa’s five on three goals was their first power play tally in 11 games.

Also, Ottawa was able to keep the Penguins of the score sheet with the man advantage for the first time since game 3.

More importantly, the Penguins had a chance to take control of the game in the first on back to back power plays and could not convert. They allowed the Sens to hang around and when you do that you are asking for trouble.

2. Said it the first two rounds and it has come to fruition here. Craig Anderson stole a game, and that is the one thing that could give a team like Ottawa a chance. It has been a long time since a goaltender in a series just stole games against the Pens and Anderson is doing it. Let’s hope he doesn’t have any magic left in game 7.

3. Pittsburgh dominated both shots on goal and attempts. Territorially the Penguins were all over the Sens again holding the puck for long stretches. Pittsburgh had a 46-30 shot advantage and a 75-46 shot attempt advantage. You like to think to maintain that kind of dominant play and to do it at PPG Paints the Pens have a great shot at winning game 7. Sullivan liked the effort and said as much in a post-game presser. He also downplayed the goal that was dismissed.

4. Curious to see what happens in goal for game 7. Could Sullivan go back to Fleury? Might not be the worst thing with the game being at home. Flower always feeds off the crowd, and you could see this as a great chance to once again change things up against an opponent.

5. Time to buck up here. This Penguins team has done it all year. Everytime their back is against the wall they respond. Been that way for the last 2 seasons. This is the exact reason that in game 1 of this series it was so disheartening to see such a lackluster effort. Now the Penguins have put themselves in a tough spot against a team that plays a style close to the vest. Pittsburgh has a real chance to establish themselves here as a dynasty with another Cup, but they need to get through his game.

It’s an opportunity for the Sid and Geno to win Cup number 3. A chance for the franchise to make it back to back Cup Finals for the third time in history. For Mike Sullivan its an opportunity to be maybe the best coach in the history of the team. Lots on the line after failing to gather the W in game 6.

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