Penguins have found another gear to put Senators on the brink
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now one win away from a consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final and five wins away from doing something no team has done in 19 years, win back-to-back Stanley Cups.
The Penguins in putting the Ottawa Senators on the brink of elimination with a 7-0 shutout win in Game 5, have found that extra gear since Game 3 and today were a club possessed to put the Senators out of their misery.
It was men among boys out there today in the Penguins favor. The Penguins were so good last postseason in being able to smell defeat from an opponent where they just overwhelmed the opposition with speed and aggressiveness.
That was the Penguins this afternoon in Game 5 from the drop of the puck.
This series was going to play out with the Penguins either hitting a wall due to fatigue and injuries that looked to might be happening after Game 3 that could lead to an upset or the more talented hockey club being the Penguins would eventually start putting pucks in the net and take over the series.
It’s the latter on what’s played out.
The Senators are not a mediocre team, but they’re also not a very good team. Playing structured, disciplined hockey with strong puck management in all three zones is what they have to do to compete and having Craig Anderson play well above his ability was going to have to continue but it was always dicey that Anderson in particular could keep it up as the series progressed.
Where this series turned, though, was the big saves by Matt Murray in the early minutes of Game 4. Coming off the 5-1 win in Game 3, if Ottawa converts one or two of those grade-A chances on Murray and gets the first goal in Game 4, who knows where this series would have gone.
Since about the five minute mark of the first period in Game 4, Pittsburgh flipped a switch to take this series over and Ottawa has gone in a completely different direction.
The superior team has emerged.
Pittsburgh has outscored Ottawa 10-2 since the goaltender change and everything about the Penguins these last two games looks like the 2016 Penguins once again.
The swagger, speed game and calmness in their game is back.
No better sign of that than the first 10 minutes of the second period.
Up 4-0 after 20 minutes, there was no letting off the gas from the Penguins. They opened up an 11-3 shot advantage in the first 10 minutes of the second period and they never let up.
Game 5 Takeaway: Key Line Adjustments overwhelm Senators
— What the Penguins did with their lines for Game 5 was something the Senators couldn’t handle. The coaching staff balanced out a mix of grit, speed and skill with all four lines.
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