The last time Sidney Crosby netted a hat trick in the playoffs was 2009. The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs was 2009. It remains to be seen if those good omens from 2009 will create a similar ending in 2013, but for now the Penguins are halfway to the Eastern Conference Final after a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Friday night.
Crosby set the tone early on scoring three times within the first 21:15 of the game as Pittsburgh stormed out to a 3-1 lead. The Penguins captain brought the CONSOL Energy Center crowd to its feet during his first goal, which left Erik Karlsson wondering what had just happened:
Craig Anderson's night was finished after Crosby completed his hat trick early in the second period. It was the first time he was pulled since March 2012. His replacement, Robin Lehner, was valiant in relief making 20 saves and keeping the Senators in the game.
Not helping the Senators' cause was the fact they handed six power plays to a Penguins team rolling along at a 36 percent rate with the man advantage entering Friday night, tops in the NHL this postseason. Pittsburgh only cashed in on one -- Crosby's third goal -- but Ottawa was never able to build momentum with the numerous trips to the penalty box.
The series now shifts to Scotiabank Place on Sunday and Tuesday for Games 3 and 4 as the Senators will attempt to slow a Pittsburgh offense averaging 4.13 goals per game. The Penguins outshot Ottawa 41-21 in Game 2, with 11 coming on the power play. As the Senators stressed after Game 1, they cannot have a parade to the penalty box if they're to beat Pittsburgh in this series.
Ottawa also needs a stronger showing from Anderson, who's now allowed seven goals thru the first two games of this series -- the combined total he allowed from Games 2-5 against Montreal in the first round. Jason Spezza's return could give them a boost, but collectively there's still plenty of work to be done.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy