Four 1st period goals spark Ottawa to victory
After splitting the first two games in Pittsburgh the Senators and Penguins head north of the border for game 3. As usual, by game three in a series story lines begin to emerge. With each passing game, the dislike for your opponent grows. The intensity seems to ratchet up with each passing period. In a series such as this where both games were decided by one goal, the margin of error is razor thin. Through game 1 and 2, Pittsburgh and Ottawa have been separated by the slimmest margin.
For the Penguins the story is two-fold. As has been the case the entire year the Pens are again battling the injury bug. It’s good news in that Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, and Justin Schultz are just day to day. But it’s bad news that none of them will be in the lineup for game 3.
Trevor Dailey looks to make his return, and Mark Streit looks to make his first appearance in the 2017 playoffs.
Streit in a pinch for Justin Schultz may be someone who can spark the Penguins power play. A jump on the power play could make a huge impact in a series where goals are hard to score.
Pittsburgh despite only scoring two goals in the first two games has shown signs of breaking out. They had several wide open chances in game two against Craig Anderson and if those opportunities continue goals should follow.
The Ottawa Senators have to come in feeling good. They split on the road and with games ending 2-1 and 1-0. It is the lower scoring games that Ottawa needs to have to win the series.
Part of those lower scoring game is great goaltending, and Craig Anderson has been on his head. Positionally he has been magnificent, and only a few rogue shots have gotten by him. The Sens are hitting and clogging the zone and not allowing the Penguins speed to take over.
Anderson vs. Fleury has been exhibition so far although neither goalie has faced an inordinate number of shots. When shots have gone through, Fleury and Anderson have been there to make the saves.
Game 3 could be an inflection point in this series. With a breakout offensive performance and reinforcements on the way, Pittsburgh could grab control in a big way with a win.
Ottawa, on the other hand, could steal home ice and even with a loss in game four turn this into a best of 3 series. A split after four games would have to be a scenario coach Guy Boucher would be happy with.
Off to the action to see what would take place in this pivotal game. And from the start, it was just what we all expected.
Game 3 would start with Pittsburgh on a scoring roll as all the breaks and bounces went their way, and they raced out to a 4-0 lead.
Ottawa never got close, and the Penguins cruised to an easy victory for a 2-1 series lead.
Wait, wait, wait, that’s exactly the opposite of what happened in this mess of a game.
Ottawa came out swinging and never actually stopped or showed any sign of weakness. The first period was an absolute embarrassment to watch as Pittsburgh just was shell shocked by four goals.
Mike Hoffman got the Senators on the board just 48 seconds into the game.
Hoffman’s goal came on the first lucky bounce that Ottawas got on the night. The play was made though when Ottawa controlled an offensive zone draw and cycled in the Penguins zone.
Luck factored in as Kyle Turris’s shot took a crazy carom and came off the back boards fooling Fleury slightly.
That slight hesitation by Fleury allowed Hoffman to gather the puck and from a poor angle bank the puck off Fleury and in.
1-0 Senators and that was just the start.
Less than a minute into Game 3, the Ottawa Senators score thanks to Mike Hoffman's goal! pic.twitter.com/HFrgUVIBri
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) May 18, 2017
Mark Methot made it 2-0 at the 10:34 mark of the 1st. This play began with Derek Brassard wheeling into the Pittsburgh zone with speed.
He took the puck with speed around the net and out towards the point. He tried to pass but it didn’t connect, but Pittsburgh was unable to gather possession.
Eventually, it came to Bobby Ryan who slipped it sloppily to Methot who was in tight.
Methot shot the puck, and Fleury made the save but in another in a series of bounces that went the Sens way the puck kicked off Ian Cole and then off Fleury and into the net.
— Call Out News (@calloutnews) May 18, 2017
Goal 3 came just 24 seconds later from Brassard and featured some excellent passing by the Senators.
As usual, the play started with Pittsburgh not making a good play to clear the zone, and then Ottawa’s defense pinched to keep the line.
After the puck had bounced off a few sets of skate, it came free near the far side faceoff circle to Clark MacArthur.
Macarthur wasted no time and found Brassard who had crashed back post and tapped home an easy finish past an outstretched Fleury.
Derick Brassard stuffs one home past Fleury to put the Senators up 3 in the first!
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) May 18, 2017
The scoring in the first would come to a close as Zack Smith scored the goal that would chase Marc-Andre Fleury.
It was quite a weird goal as the puck was fired directly over Fleury head and off the glass behind the net.
As if all the Penguins were standing in quicksand Smith outraced Dumoulin and then beat Fleury with a wraparound shot for his first of the playoffs.
Zack Smith scores the @Senators FOURTH goal of the first period! WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) May 18, 2017
Off went Fleury and in came Matt Murray to make his 2017 playoff debut.
That span of about 15 minutes did the Penguins in for the night, and the rest of this game was just a formality.
Kyle Turris and Sidney Crosby would trade 2nd and third-period goals respective to have the game end 5-1 Senators.
Turris’s goal would be the only one that Murray gave up. It again though involved some dumb luck.
Mike Hoffman made a garbage move that someone got the puck passed Ruhwedel. When Murray reached out to try to poke check the puck, he missed, Turris grabbed the puck and made a backhand move around Murray and tucked the puck into the open cage.
Sidney Crosby’s goal came on the power-play to give the Penguins one thing to hang their hat on.
Pittsburgh passed the puck around the zone well on the play, and when Kessel had the chance, he saw Sid cutting across the net.
Kessel shot, and Crosby slickly deflected the biscuit to beat Anderson to get the Pens on the board.
That would be it for the flightless birds as they finished the game with a 5-1 loss.
1. Just an all around bad game by the Pens. We have seen this a handful of times in the regular season but having it happen in game three after a lackluster game one performance is a little concerning. The margin of error is smaller now, and Pittsburgh has to bring in in game 4. The puck was bouncing the Senators way, but Pittsburgh also gave up five goals. You can see 1-2 goals being because of bounces, but 5 is just a bad game.
2. Just when you seem to think you have a handle on things in the NHL playoffs something like this game sneaks up. No one could have guessed that Ottawa would smack the Penguins around in a game like they did in this one.
3. At least Matt Murray made his playoff debut. He gave up one goal but got some good ice time. And on the health front, these injuries might just be catching up with the Penguins. It seems like every game coming in the story is who is and who is not in the lineup. Pittsburgh has just responded so much that we expect it and maybe it’s time to recognize that what they have done overcoming injuries is special.
4. To Quote the folks at Sports Castle “burn the tapes and come back strong Friday” That’s all you can do with this one as it is just about the biggest stinker of an egg you could drop.
Jason Mcdermott has you game four coverage, hopefully, the Pens will bring a better effort.