Game 3: Senators take 2-1 series lead
The Ottawa Senators have put the Penguins in a position of chasing the series after a 5-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night.
What the Penguins found out tonight is the ‘boring’ Senators are a different team at home.
However, they shouldn’t have been caught off-guard.
On the road in the playoffs the Senators have evolved into this play it safe, prevent defense type mindset, while at home they play a tad more aggressive in the offensive zone by taking more chances and pushing the tempo.
The Penguins knew it was coming and had no answer for the Senators aggressive start.
Mike Hoffman scores 48 seconds in and then the Senators kept pushing.
Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zach Smith score on consecutive shots in a 2:18 span, the fastest three goals in Senators franchise history, and Marc Andre Fleury’s night is over on nine shots.
Ottawa is now two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.
They were the better team in Game 1 which had been brushed aside as more about the Penguins coming off an emotional series than anything.
But, Ottawa has now been the better team in two of three games and have a 2-1 series lead.
— The way the Penguins D was pushed around in the paint tonight is something I thought we would see a lot more this postseason than it’s happened. Tonight they were constantly pushed off the puck, no better example of that than the Kyle Turris goal with Ian Cole and Chad Ruhwedel trying to defend, if that’s how you want to put it.
There’s likely going to be a focus from pundits that a different game plan from the Senators hurt the Penguins, but at the end of the day, what Ottawa did much better offensively tonight against the Penguins was expose the Penguins physical limitations (that are often covered up tactically).
They created chances/bounces in tight, got a nice bounce on the Methot goal, and took advantage of Fleury taking a bad angle on the Hoffman goal and then Fleury overplaying Smith on the wraparound goal where he got caught and it’s a 4-0 game.
They were just the better team and as Matt Cullen said afterwards, the Penguins played like “shit”.
— The bigger story for the Penguins is three goals in the series. They’ve now gone six straight playoff games with two goals or less and are 2-4 over that span with a -7 goal differential.
Some of the perimeter offense has resembled the Penguins offensive attack in the Bruins series from the 2013 Conference Final where Tuukka Rask looked like the best goaltender of all-time and you never thought they were going to score.
That’s how Craig Anderson looks right now.
The Penguins have not been able to beat Anderson with just a great 1-on-1 shot that they did so often last series against Braden Holtby, especially glove side against Holtby. By comparison, Anderson has been lights out on shots to his glove hand.
Credit also needs to go to Ottawa.
The first phase of the Senators 1-3-1 trap is not the Penguins issue. It’s the rotation from the Senators defensively after the Penguins zone entries that has made the Penguins stagnant offensively
If there’s one series where Patric Hornqvist is badly needed, it’s this series against this type of defensive structure of the Senators. Hornqvist missed his second straight game tonight.
The Penguins don’t have enough type of players in the lineup whose first instinct is to go straight to the net when entering the zone and that’s one of the problems the Penguins have been faced with.
They’re not getting in Craig Anderson’s sight lines enough and when the Senators are rotating defensively from their 1-3-1, the lack of an initial center drive Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"