Senators Crush Penguins 5-1 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Senators Crush Penguins 5-1

“You can’t expect to win games getting a start like that, especially in the playoffs,” Sidney Crosby said following last night’s Game Three debacle in Ottawa.

Truer words were never spoken.

While the voracious young Senators opened with a buzz-saw intensity, the Penguins slogged out of the starting gate at a snail’s pace. It cost them, big time.


For once, Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t able to bail his teammates out. On the contrary, No. 29 was part of the problem. In stark contrast to his recent form, “Flower” was deep in his net, off his angles and uncharacteristically slow to react.

After being victimized early on a sharp-angle goal by Mike Hoffman—courtesy of a lively bounce off the end boards at Canadian Tire Centre and sloppy coverage by his teammates—Fleury fell apart. During a horrific two minutes and change, he yielded three goals on three shots.

It wasn’t all his fault. On the Sens’ second goal (first of the nightmare sequence), the puck glanced off the skate of defenseman Ian Cole and past Fleury’s left pad. At 12:28 Derick Brassard—left unattended by Mark Streit—circled off the boards and rifled home Clarke MacArthur’s nifty cross-crease feed.

Twenty-four seconds later Fleury—clearly in shock—remained frozen at the far post as Zack Smith wheeled around the net and stuffed in a wraparound.

Exit poor Flower, who yielded four goals on nine shots. Enter Matt Murray, who hadn’t played since backstopping the Pens to a 7-4 victory over New Jersey on April 6.

“Muzz” proved to be the lone bright spot during an otherwise dismal 5-1 defeat. Sharp as the proverbial tack, the Thunder Bay native stopped 19 of 20 shots during 46:57 of work. On the lone exception—a backhand tally by Kyle Turris late in the second period—No. 30 was hung out to dry by his teammates, an all-too-familiar theme.

Murray’s fine play did little to mask a dispirited effort by the black and gold. When Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf buried Phil Kessel with a huge hit along the boards—then hovered over him in defiance—they pretended not to notice. The same held true when a cadre of Sens bowled Murray over at the first-period horn.

“The Penguins aren’t built that way,” offered NBCSN analyst Mike Milbury in an almost apologetic response to the team’s appalling lack of pushback.

Even worse was studio sidekick Jeremy Roenick’s proclamation that “this game is over.” While it annoyed me to no end, Roenick was spot on. The Pens pretty much were toast following the opening 20 minutes. Or, to quote former NHL tough guy and noted puck philosopher Dave “Tiger” Williams, “them guys is done like dinner.”

With the notable exceptions of fourth-liners Carter Rowney and Scott Wilson, the Pens displayed about as much tensile strength as a limp dishrag. They lost faceoffs and puck battles with remarkable facility. While they managed 26 shots on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, precious few came on second-chance attempts.

Indeed, the locals spent the majority of their offensive zone time trying to make the perfect play, rather than getting pucks to the net. The Senators’ sticky, lane-clogging defense contributed mightily to our woes.

Needless to say, it was tough to watch.

While I’m not throwing in the towel, it’s even tougher to imagine us winning the series.

Sully Sez

“I just think we’ve got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck,” Pens coach Mike Sullivan said, trying to make sense of the loss. “I think, when you give up a goal that early in the game (48 seconds in) against a team that’s playing at home, it gives their team a lot of energy. So I think we’ve got to be ready right from the drop of the puck, and we simply have to be better. We’ve got to be playing on our toes.”



Crosby’s power-play goal at 6:07 of the third period was his first point of the series. Sid was a minus-3 for the evening, as were linemates Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary. Cole also finished a minus-3.

The Pens dressed seven defensemen. Streit (an assist, minus-1) and Trevor Daley replaced Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz, who were injured in Game Two. Patric Hornqvist sat out as well.

Ottawa dominated the faceoff circle, winning 65 percent of the draws. Brassard won 14 of 16 faceoffs. On the flip side, Evgeni Malkin lost 10 of 11.

The Senators held the edge in shots on goal (29-26); the Pens had more shot attempts (62-52).

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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 19, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    According to NHL.com, Kuhnhackl is injured too. and all 4; Schultz, Hornqcist, Rust, and Kuhnhackl are unlikely to play tonight.

    I guess that explains Huhnhackl’s absence and blows my line-up a little. But now I don’t have to figure out how to get Sestito in there. I still say Sheary and Hagelin sit!

  2. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    May 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Here’s how I see it, and I wish I hadn’t. I was watching alone and still I was embarrassed: In spite of another pathetic performance, for which there is no excuse, so far in this series, Sullivan has been out coached, which is a double whammy when the guys on the ice are also being outplayed. Watching game two, I got the feeling Ottawa wasn’t trying to win. They were playing not to lose. They didn’t expend much energy on offense, but played a tight defensive game. I didn’t get it. Not in a conference final. Gotta score to win, no? I didn’t think the Pens looked too good either, except for the hitting, which I loved, of course. Then seeing the Sens come out in game three with all that fire… My first thought was, there’s the trap, then there’s the trap. It was a great bit of coaching. They did it against the Rangers, too.

    Some other thoughts:

    I agree with tOR, why the hell is Sheary still wearing skates? He’s been abysmal the entire post season. So many awful passes. Getting beat on nearly every puck. He’s been knocked down more in this post season than a duck pin on a busy Saturday night. You can’t continue to dress him then say you’re focused on winning. I’m calling BS on that one.

    And… Sitting Kuhnhackl? I don’t get that either. As evidenced by these first three games, they don’t need any more “softness”. I don’t know if fhey won game two because of the hitting, but to think it didn’t help is ignoring a rather important point.

    There was absolutely no good reason to dress seven D. I couldn’t believe it and texted my sons immediately with my displeasure. I know tough times call for tough decisions, but taking even one possible scoring stick away from an offense that’s already sucking wind is just bad coaching. This defense can’t be bolstered. It is what it is. They could dress eight D and it wouldn’t matter. They don’t have the horses. They need to dance with the guy what brung ’em, offense. If Hornqvist can’t dress for game four and Archibald isn’t in the line up, and Sheary still is, I’m going to be something other than happy, and/or confident. Even one pair of fresh legs, attached to Archibald, Sprong, or anybody, would be better than what’s been on display. I’d rather sit Sheary, dress six D and dress Sestito and Kuhnhackl to bruise some Sens ribs and hope to soften them up a bit. And, maybe some enthusiasm from a few “new guys” might be the match that lights the fire. At least the pilot light. Three goals in three games ain’t what anyone would call an offensive juggernaut. And, leading in points notwithstanding, I’m still waiting for Malkin to start playing hockey instead of channeling the Ice Capades.

    I had a bad feeling about this series from the get go. Even though the Pens historical record against Ottawa is on the plus side — something like 57-31 — they have been a team that Pittsburgh has always had to work harder to beat. They can, and do, often give the Pens fits. We’re witnessing that right now. As much as I deplore the 1-3-1, my hat is off to Boucher. He finally has a team that knows how to do it. It didn’t always work in Tampa. They had too many stars, loose cannons and snipers to roll over and play a stultifying game sixty minutes a night. This team is built for it with a solid, smothering defense that’s fast enough to recover and just the right amount of offense to pounce when the time comes.

    If the Pens can’t downshift and build massive amounts of revs; if they can’t feel that need for speed; and if they don’t unleash 35-40 shots, or more, per game, it’ll be Ottawa in six. Maybe even five.

    They can’t afford another blah game. But, man, I want them to try. I want them to at least appear to be interested. And that starts with Sid and Malkin, who both need to crank it up. You can’t win a cup when the only guys who show up every night are Carter Rowney and your goalie. I admire and appreciate both, but they aren’t near enough.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Spot on 55!

      The Pens blew it at the trade deadline with their D. It is too late now to worry about it. They now have to play to their strengths and not worry about their gaping holes. The sows ear that is the Pens D will never be a silk purse, so just loose the hounds and not worry about what you don’t have any control over. And when I say loose the hounds, I agree 100%, use the bangers, they seem to be the ones getting the job done in this series, beating the Sens D into opening up a little. They were constantly looking over their shoulders in game 2, they didn’t really break a sweat last night.

      What is it that they say about doing the same thing and especting different results. Switch the line-up already.

      As for Sully getting out-coached, I can’t help but think that he may be developing favorites rather than looking at his team objectively and plugging the right body in. I don’t know how to explain Sheary’s presence right now. Yes, he had a really good regular season, but is an empty jersey and maybe is adding to the exhaustion of the others who are trying to cover for him. Seems to me when Crosby and Guentzel are paired with anyone other than Sheary, they produce, but when re-united with Sheary, they all finished a -3.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Hey all,

      Tremendous stuff, 55. Everyone else, too.

      I confess…I’m a Sheary guy. And, while I openly admit he’s had a disappointing postseason, I thought he initially showed good chemistry with Sid and Guentzel when they were reunited in Game Two.

      But even I have to acknowledge that last night was a disaster, and perhaps it’s time to sit him. I may be hypercritical, but I just don’t see Hagelin making anything happen, either.

      Kuhnhackl certainly didn’t do anything to merit being benched. Suit him up. I love Archibald. We desperately need a shot of adrenalin, and I think he could provide it.

      Would love to see a hammer like Sestito in the lineup, but it gets a little dicey on who we’d sit. Inserting Sprong certainly would be a gutsy–and potentially high-reward–move. Again, it’s a numbers game.

      If we make too many changes, do we risk losing what little cohesiveness we have?

      I sure don’t have any answers.


      PS–I have no clue what to do on defense. If Schultz can’t go and Daley’s less than 100 percent, do you turn to Gaunce or Warsofsky?

      I personally have issues with Warsofsky’s lack of size. The few times I’ve seen him play at this level, he’s been completely overmatched along the wall and in traffic.

      The last thing we need, at this stage.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 18, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick, Good stuff…
        Only two proven ways to beat a trap.( 3 really if you have a Mario or Bobby Orr who can skate thru the entire team when ever they chose).
        Not what we have today.
        First is to Trap a Trap. Play defense. Play patient. A controlled game and wait for the Power play opportunities. I do not know about you Rick but to me the power play is not working to well.It has real problems. So throw out that idea.
        The second way is with a 1,3,1 trap is to have your puck carrier dump the puck in the weak side and chase it with speed and numbers. Get the puck and start the cycle. I have not seen a good sustained cycle lasting more than 30 seconds all series. It is like the Pens are playing the child’s game HOT POTATO. No body wants to hold the puck and make a play.Crash the net.
        Watching Ottawa play their team speed is certainly no faster than ours and if we were healthy this would not be an issue.
        I am sounding harsh but really guys Ottawa is not that big of a team. Yes they have 5 or 6 guys with size but most of their roster is smaller like us. 6′ 200 #.
        Plus we have some size too. Dumo,Tommy K.,Geno,Cole,Sestito and Hansey. We need to get physical like we did in parts of game 2.
        So for me make your changes for game 4. Do your experimentation’s now. If it fails then fall back to your old ways for game 5 and pray.
        My 2 cents worth..

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        Sheary certainly earned my respect this regular season. I am not down on him all together. It is just a matter of who is getting it done right now. Hockey, or for that matter, sports is all about what are you doing for me now, not what did you do in the past. Well, not really, there are a lot of teams and coaches who do let sentimentality get in the way, but that is a recipe for losing. Maybe next series, if we get that far, he may be the hero, but right now Sheary is hurting the team when he is out there.

        I agree there is a numbers game that comes up when thinking about line-ups. However, numbers games ease up a bit when you look at them in cold, hard, objectivity. Hagelin is another guy not getting it done. We talked about possible reasons, but the bottom line, the reasons do not matter, he just isn’t getting it done.

        Going with Sprong is gutsy, but with Hornqvist and Rust down, Kessel is the only true NHL goal scoring RW. Using a money ball idea, Sprong’s goals above the average replacement player couldn’t be more than a standard deviation from any other RW on the club. And as Jim points out, if it truly fails, you still have another game to throw the players that have proven to be indequate back in there, so you could still lose the series the old fashion way, looking instead of swinging.

        Hey Jim, that has always been the Pens biggest problem, patience. That is why they are so vulnerable to the trap. If there is nothing there, they still try to force it, rather than regroup and try again.

        Also, they do look a little tired and slow, so it is difficult for them to try and dump and chase. By the second period they just don’t have the legs to keep playing dump and chase.

        I doubt Ottawa would be even in this series if not for the injuries that the Pens have suffered. Add a healthy Letang and Schultz into the D mix, and a healthy Hornqvist and Rust on O, I think Ottawa is wondering if they will get swept.

  3. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    After game 1, I said it was painful to watch. This was worse.

    Where do you start. Maybe with the line-up? The Pens had scored only 3 Goals in the first two games but elected to dress 7 D men? Did they think they were going to improve that number. Dressing 7 D is what you do when you can’t seem to stop the other teams O. Sorry Sully, I normally back your decisions, but this time you chose wrong.

    The Pens won game to after pounding bodies, yet instead of dressing their designated hitter Kuhnhackl, who was still leading the team in hits going into last nights game, despite being the first man dumped to the bench to rush under-performing veterans back.

    Speaking of under-performing, why is Sheary getting a free ride?!! He has the worst +/- on the team. You can argue that the +/- may be influenced by who you are on the ice with when the numbers are close but when you are the worst, there is a reason for that!

    Sorry Rick but after that pathetic showing I make serious changes. If Hornqvist and Rust aren’t ready for game 4 my O would be this;


    You don’t win many games trying not to lose; pull a couple of black aces, go for broke!!

    If Hornqvist and Rust are ready to go, Sheary still sits, as well as Sprong and Archibald, but Kuhnhackl stays in there.

    Also, I have warned that MAF hasn’t been the superstar that some bandwagon jumpers wish he was, to perpetuate a feel good story. He has simply been MAF. His sparkling, acrobatic saves are often due to his being out of position or being unable to control rebounds. When he guesses right he is a highlight reel, when he guesses wrong he is a turnstile. Last night he was a turnstile. And that wasn’t his only bad game this post sesaon. OUtside of 1 or 2 road games his road game record is below average. As I mentioned several times last series the Caps missed the net a lot. The Sens aren’t.

    The first goal was all on him. Yes it was a puck luck goal going in off of his skate, but he had to be out of position for the puck to go off of his skate. He also facilitated zone time for the Sens with some poor decisions that at the very least made his own D tentative, opening them up for mistakes as well.

    Do I go with Murray next game? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I know I lambasted his play last night and questioned what some people have claimed to be a Conn Smythe performance this post-season, by pointing out the number of games that he has posted less than 0.900 Sv%, but I am not a fan of changing horses in mid stream unless I am sure the horse has come up lame. I watch him in practice to see if he has lost his confidence. I watch how he plays his angles and how long he stays up on his skates, flopping is usually a sign of desparation rather than confidence.

    I like MAF and hope that he could respond to this clunker the way he responded in Game 7 last series. I would prefer to see him salvage this series himself.

    I wish I could say something about the D but since the Pens blew it before the trade deadline and not really pick up a viable D man, only 2-retreads, they have no options but to circle the wagons or get scalped. Yes, Hainsey has been better than some of the other options but the Pens tried to patch an arterial bleeder with a band-aide with there trade deadline deals.

    • May 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Hey tOR,

      I like where you are going, I like the line combinations. It would seem that the Pens players are afraid to go to the net. After watching the cheap crap phaneuf pulled on Kessel, I would seriously dress Sestito and send him in to keep pounding at Phaneuf. Players must get to the front of the net.

      A couple other thoughts:

      Defensemen must shoot, It is the only way to spread out the five players that Ottawa has balled up in front of their net. Right now, they don’t even bother covering the defensemen. The forwards are playing 3 against 5.

      Since neither streit & daley are complete defensemen, Obviously something is wrong with daley or you wouldn’t have seen 7 defensemen. If Shultz isn’t playing, throw in Warsofsky & just keep his minutes down.

      Guentzel off of the first powerplay. To quote Patches O’Houlihan “He’s about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.” The Penguins need a guy right in front of Anderson to stir things up. While Kunitz doesn’t have his scoring touch, he would be way more useful there. The idea is to screen Anderson and also keep the guys in tighter so are main shooters can fire away.

      Sullivan should have called a timeout after the third goal. The game was within reach. ‘nuf said.

      Start Murray. Why not. Then we will truly know if he is that good. If he can shut down the Sens for a few games then you will have your answer. If he flops under was worse pressure than he had at any point last year you will also have your answer. This is the perfect time to see who is the Penguins goalie of the future.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        I had a similar thought about dressing Sestito. If I did, I would consider sending him out on the 1st PP the way the Pens used to use (was it) McKenna, if Hornqvist isn’t ready to go. The PP needs a net front presence and although I like Guentzel, he isn’t that guy. But definitely Kunitz is better suited for the role in front of the net than Geuntzel.

        As for the D, I have complained about them all year, I am tired of beating that horse. I don’t know what to do with them.

        Another way of trying to get more O in the game would be to adopt the old Capitals style of trying to sneak the weak side D back door. Get all the of the Sens to focus on the puck in the corner or along the boards and then slip a pass across to the far post to a breaking D for a tap in. Maatta and Domoulin have at times looked like they were capable of this, Streit and Daley should definitely be able to handle plays like that. Not sure how Cole and Hainsey would do that, but I would think Ruhwedel could handle it too.

        I also agree with the idea that a time out may have stemmed the tide at 3 goals and have given MAF a chance to regroup. However, I don’t think I have seen Sullivan use his time outs until the end of the game to rest players or set a strategy.

        As for Murray, I am still not sure who I would start. You have a good point in throwing Murray to the wolves like the Spartans used to do. However, there are other arguments as well that keep me from going all in with that idea. Sentimentality isn’t one of them, though. It could be a great morale booster for Sully to come right back with MAF, which could reignite the fire that had him play like he did in the CBJ series and at least half of the Was series. If he could come back with anything like he did in game 7 last series, I would like to see him get the chance. If this were a regular season game, where I had wiggle room, I definitely would come back with him.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          Hey Guys
          Two problems for me in last night’s loss.
          First one is our boys looked tired. After the first period our team simply looked outclassed.Yes the d corps was exposed last night. Geno could not win a face off ! 1 for 11 ? Sheary…..- 3 I think. Not the result we expected.
          My second point is much more serious.I hope I am wrong. Before last night’s game the Ottawa head coach said to several media outlets.” We must play within ourselves.We can NOT get into a scoring contest with the defending Cup Champions”. Last night the Ottawa Senator’s realized that they CAN beat the Pen’s in a scoring contest. That may give them a new level of confidence they never had…
          If that is true our task has become a lot harder.
          With regards to the Goalie situation. ..Start Murray.

          I will post more later.

          • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
            May 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jim,

            I’m going to break silence and agree. They, indeed, look tired.

            I was watching Brian Dumoulin on the opening shift and he literally looked as if he had two concrete blocks lashed to his feet instead of skates. And “Dumo’s” normally a quick-footed guy. He led the Pens in ice time (26:08) in Game Two.

            I just think the Pens are worn down.


        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          May 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          Hey Jim,

          Let me throw this out at you, the best thing for the Pens is for Ottawa to think that it can play run and gun with the Pens. It just may be that the biggest problem with the PEns scoring problems is the stifling defensive style Ottawa plays. If they get the first goal like they did last night, they sit back and frustrate the Pens into mistakes.

          However, If they try and play run and gun ,they really don’t have the fire power. If they give Crosby, Guentzel, Malkin, and Kessel a seam, because they were trying to match the Pens, then Anderson will be hung out to dry like Holtby and Boborvsky were. So I say, let them get cocky and abandon their system.

          The Offense’s biggest problem right now is with delayed gratification. They are letting themselves get frustrated by the trap and aren’t willing to work for territory. Of course it doesn’t help when the right players aren’t dressed for trench warfare.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Hey guys,

      Just a ton of great stuff. Phil, love the Patches O’Houlihan quote.

      I’m going to hold my thoughts for tomorrow’s post. But truly, excellent thoughts and insights …



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