ShareThis Page

Penguins defense, Fleury collapse in blowout loss to Senators in Game 3

| Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:54 p.m.

OTTAWA — The tale of the first month of the Penguins' playoff run had at least two storybook chapters.

In one, a plucky and unheralded group of defensemen missing its best player held two of the most dangerous offenses in the league at bay.

In the other, a veteran goaltender was writing an uplifting second act to his career at age 32, emerging from backup status to put his team on his back.

The final chapters still need to be written, of course, but Wednesday night, for the Penguins, the genre shifted from fairy tale to horror story.

Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals and was pulled before the game was 13 minutes old, the team's defensive structure crumbled to pieces and the Ottawa Senators cruised to a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.

The Senators lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Friday night in Ottawa.

"We should be a little bit embarrassed, the way we came out and the way we started this game," winger Chris Kunitz said. "We need to come in with more urgency and more jump every single time we step on the ice. Nothing's going to be handed to you or given to you. Nothing's going to be easy."

The Senators' Derick Brassard scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa. For more images from Game 3, visit the Trib's photo gallery .

Photo by Christopher Horner

 

Fleury was pulled after stopping 5 of 9 shots. Matt Murray, playing his first game since April 6 because of a lower-body injury, stopped 19 of 20 shots the rest of the way.

Immediately following the game, coach Mike Sullivan said he hadn't yet considered who he would start in Game 4.

With Kris Letang done for the season and Justin Schultz now out with an upper-body injury, the Penguins came into Wednesday's game without their top two puck-moving defensemen. The remaining defense corps had its roughest night of the postseason.

"We've dealt with it all year long. Are we worried about it? Not really. We don't have a choice," Sullivan said of his personnel situation on defense. "That's just the reality of the circumstance, and it's nothing this team isn't accustomed to. We've been dealing with this all year long. Kris Letang played 40 games for us this year. We had to find ways to win without Tanger for half the season."

In the first period, the Penguins turned in an exhibition of slipshod defense and goaltending that left them in a hole there was no way they could dig out of.

"I don't think it has anything to do with strategy or X's and O's," Sullivan said. "It's a readiness. It's a hunger. We've got to play with more conviction."

In the first minute, off an offensive-zone faceoff win, Ottawa scored when a deflected Kyle Turris shot took a lively bounce off the end boards and Mike Hoffman banked in a shot off Fleury's skate at the left post.

In the middle of the period, the Senators scored three times in a three-minute span to blow the game wide open.

On the first, a bad-angle Marc Methot shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle banked in off Fleury's shoulder, Ian Cole's right skate and Fleury's left skate.

On the second, with the Penguins fixated on an Erik Karlsson backhand pass from the blue line that was knocked down in the slot, Derick Brassard sneaked in backdoor and buried a pass from Clarke MacArthur.

On the third, Smith threw a puck off the glass behind the goal, skated around Brian Dumoulin and scored on a wraparound with little resistance from anyone in black and gold.

"It wasn't good enough. Not even close," defenseman Olli Maatta said. "I don't think we were ready at all. You see how good of a team they are. If you're not ready to go, they're going to make you pay. I think the biggest thing now is just have a short memory. We have to make sure next game is going to be our best game."

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Senators' Derick Brassard scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Senators' Mark Stone celebrates the fourth goal of the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals next to Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) scores past Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) in the third period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Senators' Derick Brassard scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Senators' Kyle Turris scores past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray during the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) stops a shot on goal from Penguins right wing Carter Rowney (37) in the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) collides with teammate Trevor Daley (6) after a shot on goal against the Senators in the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Carter Rowney battles the Senators' Tom Pyatt along the boards during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Chris Horner | Tribune-Review
Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) scores a goal past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury collects himself after giving up the third goal of the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Ottawa.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.