Penguins rout Senators, return to Eastern Conference final
Everything about this knockout was technical.
The Penguins, though, were all power and might in their second-round slamming of the Ottawa Senators.
They advanced to the Eastern Conference final with a 6-2 win over the Senators on Friday.
“The depth we have showed, different guys chipping in,” captain Sidney Crosby said of what he liked most about a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal they won, 4-1.
That said it all, actually.
The Penguins doubled-up the Senators, 22-11, in a five-game romp against the team that finished the regular season second in goals-against average and first in penalty kill.
They chased goalie Craig Anderson twice, and bested him for at least four goals three times.
Anderson allowed four goals only twice during the season.
He, like the Senators, succumbed to a Penguins' power play that was devastating, dominant — if at times a bit too daring.
The Penguins went 6 for 25 (24 percent) in the series, all of those goals coming in their wins.
“I hope they don't bill us for the clinic,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
Up next for the Penguins is either Boston or the New York Rangers, and the series will open with Games 1 and 2 at Consol Energy Center at a date to be determined.
Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon.
Winger James Neal might want the next series to begin then, too.
He had only one goal going into Game 4 on Wednesday, but finished as the Penguins' leader against the Senators with five markers.
He turned a hat trick in Game 5, which returning winger Brenden Morrow (left arm) opened with a goal about seven minutes into the first period.
Neal scored next, on a second-period power play, and from that point it seemed clear that Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had been spot-on with his series assessment after the Penguins' 7-3 win in Game 4.
The Penguins were just too much too handle.
Alfredsson, along with former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar playing perhaps his last NHL game, provided his opposition with its greatest compliment by basically conceding the series after the Senators' third loss.
However, defenseman Marc Methot perhaps most accurately captured what these Penguins are like when he referred to them as “a monster.”
Fittingly, Michael Keaton, the Coraopolis-born Hollywood star who played “Beetlejuice” and “Batman,” took in Game 5 from Consol Energy Center.
Coach Dan Bylsma is directing a film with many stars — consider that 500-goal scorer Jarome Iginla has switched positions and agreed to play on the second power-play unit just to be a part of this cast — although one has shined most unexpectedly.
Tomas Vokoun replaced franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 of Round 1 and has lost just once.
The Senators needed five-plus periods to defeat him in Game 3, and he would have won that had the Penguins' power play not allowed a goal while protecting a 1-0 lead with 29 seconds to play.
Vokoun made 29 saves in Game 5. He finished the series with a .935 save percentage.
“Obviously, Vokoun was very solid for us all the way through,” Crosby said.
There were few Penguins who weren't solid — from Crosby, who scored highlight-reel goals in Games 2 and 4, to winger Matt Cooke, who finished with 20 hits.
The Penguins had not defeated a lower-seeded opponent in three years or won a series in two before knocking off the Islanders in Round 1.
They had not wrapped a series at home in five years since ousting the Senators in Round 2.
They have not been to the Stanley Cup Final in four years.
That is what Round 3 will be about.