Only once this post-season has a team not bounced back with a win after a blowout loss, so don’t go thinking the Senators’ 7-0 defeat means their season is over.
Senators coach Guy Boucher didn’t hide behind any excuses after Sunday’s blowout loss to the Penguins. With the series tied at two games apiece, Boucher said Ottawa played well for the first few minutes, but after Pittsburgh was able to score their second goal of the game, his team wasn’t able to push back. And that much is evident just by looking at the box score.
The Penguins scored early and incredibly often Sunday night. It started with an Olli Maatta goal eight minutes into the contest, was followed by a Sidney Crosby marker four minutes later, added to when Bryan Rust scored four minutes after that and Scott Wilson capped a four-goal first period scored with little more than a minute remaining in the frame. By the time the game was through, Pittsburgh had added three more tallies and Matt Murray shut the door, turning aside all 25 shots he faced en route to his second career playoff shutout.
The scoreboard wasn’t the only place the Penguins dominated, however. From start to finish, Pittsburgh dominated the possession game and finished with nearly 60 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts throughout the contest. There wasn’t even all that much of a turnaround — or any turnaround, honestly — in attempts once Pittsburgh ran out to a 4-0 lead. The Penguins also earned more than 60 percent of the shots on goal at five-a-side and dominated in scoring chances, as well. That led Boucher to acknowledge post-game that his team is in tough as they head back to Ottawa for a potentially series deciding Game 6.
“We know they’re a better team,” Boucher told reporters when asked about losing consecutive games. “Everybody knows that on the planet. They’re the Stanley Cup champions. They’re the best team in the League. That’s no secret. We know to beat that team, we need to be at our very, very best. And we were not.”
But just because the Senators haven’t been their “very, very best” in the past two outings doesn’t mean this series is over, nor does the blowout victory indicate that Game 6 is set to be a similar walk in the park for the Penguins. In fact, given what we’ve seen in these playoffs, Pittsburgh’s big win could mean they’re in for one of the toughest nights of the series when it shifts back to Ottawa. There has been five other blowouts of four goals or more this post-season, and all but once the team that was humiliated came back with a win the next night out:
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks — Game 3
The Predators’ play in the first round was about as dominant a showing from any team that we’ve seen in any series this post-season. Nashville was suffocating play through the neutral zone, forcing Chicago to play a chip-and-chase game that went against their favored style and it led to one especially lopsided victory in Game 2. The two teams were close for the first half of the game, but ahead 2-0 midway through the contest, the Predators went on to blow out the Blackhawks 5-0 to take a 2-0 series lead.
When the series shifted back to Nashville for an all-important Game 3, though, Chicago came out flying. Early in the contest, Dennis Rasmussen scored to put the Blackhawks up 1-0, a lead to which Patrick Kane would add before the first frame was through. But the Predators chipped away at the lead in the third period, tying the game with six minutes remaining. Then, in overtime, Kevin Fiala came up with the biggest goal of his young career, potting the winner and putting Nashville ahead 3-0 in the best-of-seven.
To this point in the playoffs, the Blackhawks’ loss is the only time a team hasn’t bounced back from a blowout.
Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks — Game 5
To be pitted against the defending Western Conference champions in the opening round made the Oilers’ return to the playoffs — their first appearance in a decade — a difficult one, but Edmonton managed to keep every game close and manage a somewhat unexpected 2-1 series lead through the first three outings. But after Game 4, some would have pointed to an inexperienced Oilers club that was ready to buckle under the pressure. The contest was all Sharks.
The scoring started with Joe Pavelski finding twine 15 seconds into the game and San Jose didn’t stop scoring until seven minutes into the third period. All told, the Sharks put up seven goals, while Edmonton mustered 23 shots on Martin Jones, all of which were turned aside. The 7-0 scoreline should look familiar this morning.
But Game 4’s walk led to Game 5’s hard-fought battle. San Jose jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the contest, but Edmonton clawed back. First it was Mark Letestu scoring late in the second and that was followed by an Oscar Klefbom goal with roughly three minutes remaining in the third. In overtime, deadline acquisition David Desharnais scored the winner and the Oilers went on to close out the series in Game 6.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals — Game 3
When the Capitals lost Game 1 to the Penguins, it had that oh-no-not-again feeling to it. That feeling was only heightened when a battered-and-bruised Pittsburgh side put up not one, not two, not three, but six goals in a 6-2 blowout in Game 2 of the second-round battle. It was the third period where the Penguins really started to run away, scoring three goals, including a near-immediate answer to Nicklas Backstrom’s early third period marker. The loss was Washington’s second in a row and put the Presidents’ Trophy winners on the ropes as they headed to Pittsburgh.
Washington wasn’t about to go down 3-0 in the series, though. Midway through the first period of Game 3, the Capitals drew first blood when Backstrom netted a power play goal. Washington extended that lead to 2-0 when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored midway through the third frame. Then came the near epic collapse. In 48 seconds, from 18:07 to 18:55 of the third period, Pittsburgh scored twice to draw even and send the contest to overtime. However, will all the momentum on the Penguins’ side entering the extra frame, the Capitals earned a power play early in overtime, leading to a Kevin Shattenkirk overtime goal. Washington’s 3-2 victory put them back in the series, but they would bow out in seven games.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers — Game 7
Game 5 of the second-round series between the Oilers and Ducks is one Edmonton fans are going to remember for a long while. Up 3-0 with little more than three minutes left in the third period, the Oilers were in total control, but four-straight Ducks goals — three in three minutes to end regulation and a Corey Perry goal in overtime — gave Anaheim a shocking 4-3 victory. So, Game 6 was Edmonton’s chance to respond. And, boy, did they ever.
In the first period of Game 6, the Oilers scored five goals and added another two over the remainder of the evening. The 7-1 thumping of the the Ducks was highlight by a hat trick and five-point night for Leon Draisaitl, and whatever momentum had been gained by Anaheim in the previous outing appeared to have disappeared heading into a crucial Game 7. That held true early into the deciding game, too.
Only 3:31 into Game 7, the Oilers were back on the scoreboard, with Drake Caggiula turning a broken play into an early Edmonton lead. But that’s where the Oilers’ scoring would be halted. The Ducks hunkered down on defense and found some scoring of their own, first off the stick of Andrew Cogliano and then from Nick Ritchie, a goal which put Anaheim ahead by one. That was enough to bounce back from the brutal Game 6 defeat and finally win a Game 7 on home ice. The 2-1 win sent Anaheim on to the Western Conference final.
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins — Game 4
The Penguins should be familiar with what the response to a blowout can be and what the feeling for the blown-out squad is in the locker room post-game. After all, they were on the other side of the blowout less than a week ago in their first trip to Ottawa this post-season.
Much like other lopsided victories this post-season, the Senators’ goals came early and often. In the first period of Game 3, Mike Hoffman scored 48 seconds in to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead and score the Senators’ first goal since Bobby Ryan’s overtime winner in Game 1. And roughly 10 minutes after Hoffman’s goal, Ottawa went on a scoring spree. Marc Methot scored at the 10:34 mark. Derick Brassard stretched the lead to three with a goal less than two minutes later. And 24 seconds after Brassard’s goal, Zack Smith’s wraparound found the back of the net to give the Senators a 4-0 edge, a goal which has planted goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench ever since. When the final second ticked off the clock, Ottawa skated away with a 5-1 win.
But Game 4 was a much different story. This time it was Pittsburgh that paced themselves out to an early 3-0 lead, sitting firmly in control of the contest after Brian Dumoulin scored midway through the second period. A goal late in the second by Clarke MacArthur drew the Senators within two and Tom Pyatt cut the Penguins’ lead to one late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough. Pittsburgh, blown out the game prior, held off Ottawa for a 3-2 victory to even up the series.
That brings us to Game 5’s massive 7-0 victory, one which has given the Penguins the series lead and puts the Cinderella Senators on the brink of elimination. But knowing the history of bounce backs after blowouts so far this post-season, there’s reason to believe Game 6 might not be the last hurrah for Ottawa.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.