The Ottawa Senators sent the Eastern Conference finals series into a frenzy with a five-goal outburst against reigning NHL Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ottawa posted a comprehensive 5-1 game-three win on Wednesday to take a 2-1 series lead against the Penguins.
The Sens were quick to disprove critics of the dull, bend-but-do not break trap system they have deployed to slow the Penguins with a goal 48 seconds into the game and three more in a span of 2:18 later in the first period after Mike Hoffman got the party started.
Hoffman was in the right place, right time when a friendly puck caught the end boards and the Senators winger exploited an opening between Marc-Andre Fleury and the near post.
Then, with 10:34 gone in the period, Marc Methot's second goal of the playoffs set off the quickest three-goal run in Senators playoff history. By the time Zack Smith's bank-shot wraparound goal made it 4-0 Ottawa with 7:08 to play, Pittsburgh pulled Fleury – who allowed the trio of goal on three successive shots – in favour of Matt Murray for his first appearance since April 4.
Sidney Crosby was in danger of going three games without scoring a point for the first time all season until his power-play goal at 13:53 of the third period got the Pens on the board. The captain's effort to spark a late rally was for naught, however, and the Pens are left licking some serious wounds.
Marc Methot, Senators - Methot, who did not have a goal all season, now has two in the playoffs and added an assist on Wednesday, officially enacting revenge on Crosby for maiming his pinky finger earlier this season. Methot also was a plus-four for the game.
Bobby Ryan, Senators - With a pair of assists, Ryan has 13 points through 15 games in these playoffs. It took him 28 games during the regular season to reach 13 points.
Craig Anderson, Senators - Anderson has stopped 78 of 81 shots in the Eastern Conference finals after a 25-save showing in game three. This against the NHL's highest-scoring offense from the regular season. He has been remarkable.
Western Conference finals: Ducks at Predators - Nashville turned this series up a notch in a dominant game-three win, even if the 2-1 score did not indicate it. Anaheim are on their heels, and it will not be an easy task to climb out of a 3-1 series hole if it comes down to that.