PITTSBURGH -- On Friday in Pittsburgh, the Penguins were trying to do to the Ottawa Senators what they were not able to do to the New York Islanders in their first-round series: take a 2-0 series lead.
"We were looking at getting the second win and getting the second win as soon as we possibly could, at home," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.
From the start it appeared Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby wasn't about to let the chance to take a 2-0 series lead slip away again, as he collected a hat trick and his 100th career playoff point in powering the Penguins to a 4-3 victory.
"He's one of the best in the game. and if you give him time and space to make plays, to shoot the puck, he's going to burn you," said Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips of Crosby.
Just as in Game 1, the Penguins got on the board early.
Crosby notched his 100th career playoff point 3:16 into the contest when he turned Erik Karlsson, one of the NHL's top defensemen, inside-out at the blue line and broke in alone on Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson, beating him with a hard wrist shot through his five hole to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
"Catch-up hockey is losing hockey and we're behind 1-0 early in both games, and now you're playing catch-up the whole way and it takes energy and leads to frustration," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean.
Crosby was able to reach the 100-playoff-point plateau in just 75 career playoff games, making him the fifth quickest player in NHL history to accomplish that feat.
The Penguins were awarded two power-play opportunities after they had taken the 1-0 lead, but failed to convert on either.
Conversely, the Senators wasted no time in taking advantage of their first power-play opportunity when Kyle Turris took a rather ordinary wrist shot from just below the left faceoff circle that snuck through the five hole of Pittsburgh netminder Tomas Vokoun at 13:15 of the first, tying the game at 1-1.
Less than three minutes later, Anderson let in a rather ordinary shot of his own when Crosby skated down the left wing and simply pushed the puck toward the net. It banked off of Anderson's pads and in to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
"I was kind of running out of space to make a pass," said Crosby. "I was hoping that it was able to find a way in somehow. I kind of saw him leaning a bit and didn't know how much room was there, but it found a way to trickle in there."
The Penguins were awarded another power play early in the second frame, and it was during that man-advantage that Crosby completed the natural hat trick by overpowering Anderson with a slap shot from the left faceoff dot at 1:15 of the second to extend the Pittsburgh lead to 3-1.
"The things he does on the ice, you see in practice you see the work he does, and he gets rewarded for it in games," said Penguins forward Brenden Morrow. "It's not a gift. He actually works hard for everything he gets and he deserves it."
That goal was enough to chase Anderson from the net in favor of Robin Lehner, who made his NHL playoff debut.
"It happened very fast; usually you see the coach kind of asking around. I wasn't really ready," said Lehner. "Everyone was throwing their hats, and all of a sudden I just saw (MacLean) beside my face and he said 'Go in.'"
The Senators battled right back and scored less than a minute later when Colin Greening broke down the left wing and blistered a wrist shot over Vokoun's glove to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 3-2.
However, just when the Senators looked as though they might climb back into the game, Pittsburgh struck again when Morrow tipped in a Paul Martin blast from the point at 8:04 of the second. It came just seconds after Guillaume Latendresse was released from the penalty box for boarding.
The Senators had a golden opportunity to get back to within one at 2:52 of the second when rookie Cory Conacher broke in on a breakaway, but Vokoun stacked his pads and made the save on Conacher's wrist shot to keep the Penguins ahead by two.
The Senators did pull back within one at 2:01 of the third when Vokoun found himself far from his net after making a save. The rebound from the save bounced toward the Pittsburgh net, but Vokoun wasn't able to get back through the mass of bodies in the crease in time to prevent Jean-Gabriel Pageau from backhanding the puck in to an open net.
But that was as close as the Senators would get.
Vokoun made 19 saves for the victory, while Anderson was tagged with the loss making 18 saves.
Game 3 will be Sunday night in Ottawa.
NOTES: The Penguins are now 32-22 all-time in Game 2s. Meanwhile, the Senators now have a 5-18 record in Game 2s. ... The Penguins are 27-3 (regular season and playoffs) when they are perfect on the penalty kill. ... The Senators had the best penalty kill in the NHL during the regular season, killing 88 percent of opponents' power plays. ... Evgeni Malkin is five points shy of reaching 100 career playoff points. Daniel Alfredsson is three points shy of reaching the same plateau. ... With his second goal, Crosby took sole possession of fourth place on the Penguins' all-time playoff points list, surpassing Ron Francis. ... Scratches for the Penguins included forwards Tanner Glass and Jussi Jokinen and defensemen Mark Eaton and Simon Despres. Scratches for the Senators included forward Matt Kassian and defensemen Eric Gryba and Mike Lundin.