Captains Sidney Crosby and Daniel Alfredsson shake hands after the Penguins eliminated the Senators in five games. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Why Pittsburgh won: The fact of the matter is, the Penguins are a deeper and more talented team than the Senators in every position but goaltending – and in Game 5, Pittsburgh made that apparent in addition to getting solid netminding from Tomas Vokoun. The result was another matchup in which the Pens put the game out of reach for Ottawa by the end of the second period.
Why Ottawa lost: The Senators had to stay out of the penalty box to have any chance of sending the series back to Ottawa and they failed to do so, giving Pittsburgh four power plays. They also needed Anderson to be at the top of his game and although he wasn’t the reason they lost, he was merely adequate. And the Sens’ top offensive players – captain Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson – combined for only two points. Simply put, nothing the Sens needed to do to survive was accomplished. All-in-all, they looked tired and overmatched.
Play of the game: Evgeni Malkin’s goal with 30 seconds left in the second was Pittsburgh’s fourth of the night and deflated any second wind the Sens had after they got on the scoreboard a few minutes earlier.
1. James Neal: For the second consecutive game Neal was Pittsburgh’s most dangerous of many offensive threats, recording a hat trick and four points in only 12:42 of ice time. He’s getting hot at precisely the right time.
2. Tomas Vokoun: The veteran goalie didn’t have to make many spectacular saves, but he was steady the entire game, limited rebound chances for the Sens and finished the night with 29 saves on 31 Ottawa shots. The Pens will gladly accept that type of performance the rest of the way.
3. Kris Letang: The slick blueliner led Pittsburgh in ice time (24:19) and amassed a goal and three points. He now has seven points in his past two games.
What's Next: For the Penguins, the Eastern Conference final – more than likely, against a Boston Bruins team that will have a tough time containing Pittsburgh’s incredibly potent offense. So long as Vokoun is able to give them decent enough play between the pipes, any opposition they face will need to play a near-perfect game to beat them. As for the Senators, although the end was ugly, this squad overcame more adversity than any other NHL team this season and is well positioned to stay in playoff contention for the foreseeable future. – Adam Proteau