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NHL Playoff Game Day 18: Senators-Penguins

The Hockey News

The Hockey News


Why Pittsburgh won: Because when you have the best hockey player on earth on your team, and when that player erupts for a hat trick and imposes his will on a game, not even mediocre goaltending – like the goaltending supplied by Penguins netminder Tomas Vokoun in Game 2 – can stop you from winning. The Penguins were carried to victory by Sidney Crosby’s incredible play (which chased Sens goalie Craig Anderson from the game 1:15 into the second period after Crosby’s third goal) and Swiss cheese defense from the Senators (including star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who struggled for the second straight game).

Why Ottawa lost: For the second straight game, Anderson had no answer for the Penguins’ onslaught – and this time, he was yanked in favor of understudy Robin Lehner. Pittsburgh assaulted the Sens net throughout the night, outshooting Ottawa 42-22. They also sacrificed more, out-blocking the Senators 20-8. The Sens were undisciplined (giving Pittsburgh six power plays) and needed an outstanding performance from Lehner to keep the score close. This team still doesn’t look like it is in sync – and that goes double for Karlsson.

Play of the game: The play of this game was actually three plays: Crosby’s ninth career hat trick and the second in his playoff career, which came on three very different types of shots. The first was the result of an incredible undressing of Sense defenseman Erik Karlsson, followed by a wrist shot between Anderson’s legs; the second was a crafty no-look shot after looking like he would pass; and the third was a slap shot. It was a perfect illustration on how many ways No. 87 can hurt an opponent.

Three stars

1. Sidney Crosby: What more can you say about the Penguins captain? In 20:56 (including more than six minutes on the power play) of ice time, Crosby was pure magic. The only area he was lacking in was faceoffs (10 of 23), but really, who cares?

2. Robin Lehner: Came in for Anderson 1:15 into the second and kept the Sens in the game. His toe save on Jarome Iginla was the stop of the night – and his stellar play presents Ottawa coach Paul MacLean with a dilemma for Game 3: start Anderson again, or go with the hotter hand in the rookie backup?

3. Paul Martin: The Pens defenseman was much-maligned in the 2012 playoffs, but played a smooth 26:14 (tops among all players) and posted a pair of assists and three blocked shots. Whoever’s in Pittsburgh’s net needs Martin to play like this every night.

What's Next: The series shifts to Ottawa for Game 3 Sunday night. If MacLean stays with Anderson, expect the coach to give the goalie an even shorter leash. But if the Senators can’t get more shots on the Penguins net, it isn’t likely to matter who is between the pipes for the Sens. The home side will need better efforts from Karlsson, Milan Michalek and many others and if they don’t start the game strong, you can be sure Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and/or one of the Penguins’ other threats will make them regret it.


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