Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scores a goal against Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH – The weapon backfired.
We regret to inform you the patient is now on life support and is not expected to survive the week.
All that rest the Senators were able to get from days off between games didn’t help them track down the puck inside their blue line for a full 82 seconds before the resurrected Bryan Rust dug their grave a little deeper at 16:04 of the first period on Sunday.
That goal, the third in a 7-0 onslaught, matched the Penguins entire offensive production in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final.
“We were taking on some water,” Bobby Ryan said of the shift that seemed to last an eternity. “I don’t think they had many shots. But they were all over the puck and cycling, and that wears you out.”
Ryan had a chance to clear the puck, but it slipped under his foot.
“I don’t think that was the defining goal. I think one, two, three, four, five … they all were,” he said, but then admitted the third one did define the Senators game. ‘We were in our zone like that countless times. Countless times we were watching them around the outside and eventually get too tired and they take it inside and get the chances.”
The “rest is a weapon” mantra repeated by Guy Boucher throughout the playoffs had a hollow ring to it in the Senators 99th game, counting regular season and playoffs. They looked tired as well as defeated.
And no, you sure wouldn’t want to practice that power play, which generated zip in going 0-for-4 and has now blown 29 consecutive chances since Game 1, Round 2.
“It’s better than a 2-1 heartbreaker in overtime, I guess,” said Ryan. “Really, when you look at a game and you can’t say you deserved better, anywhere along the way, then it’s frustrating.
“For me, I spend about a half hour pissed off and kicking the dog, but that’s about it,” he added when asked about moving forward. “You can’t dwell on that. You can’t go home and be negative, you can’t re-watch the game and think, this was the play in the game, because there was a hundred of them. I flush it. I’ll come to the rink tomorrow, ready to refresh.”
Moments before Boucher admitted to reporters that the Penguins are the better team, Kyle Turris was singing a different tune.
“We’ve won two games against them … we were tied 2-2 going into tonight,” said Turris. “Just because they had one game that was a blowout, doesn’t mean they’re a better all-round team than we are. We feel confident that we are. We’ll have to show that next game.”
Noble sentiment, but unlikely.
The Penguins are back to being the Penguins.
The Senators will soon have plenty of time to rest.
Guy Boucher of the Ottawa Senators talks to Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators after being pulled in the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
STARTS AND STOPS: Birthday boy Craig Anderson did look pretty confident early in the first. “He’s got the cocky glove going,” noted Postmedia colleague Ken (Scooter) Warren. No, the trapper wasn’t an issue. The Penguins goals on him were scored, in order, midway up his stick side, between his body and stick side arm, low stick side and off his leg from behind the net. In other words, everywhere but his glove side … Asked by TSN’s Brent Wallace if Anderson would start Game 6, Boucher replied: “Oh my God.” When Wallace said he had to ask, Boucher said: “I know you do, but you should not.” … The Senators’ first period crumble started when Mike Hoffman missed completing a blind backhand pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau just inside the blue line. A few seconds later, Olli Maatta was triggering the attack again.
BETWEEN PERIODS: Nick Bonino had trouble getting to the rink Sunday. “It was weird,” said the Penguins centre. “All of a sudden, the gas didn’t work and the power steering went out in the middle of the highway. I was able to get to the side. Great teammate Phil Kessel came and picked me up. I owe a lot to Phil tonight for being here. A great guy.” And here you thought Kessel was something else altogether … Nobody was waiving a yellow Penguins rally towel any more vigorously than actor Michael Keaton … Just 20 seconds into the Senators first power play, Anderson was forced to stop a Carl Hagelin breakaway. And 58 seconds into it, Mark Stone was going off for slashing. “That’s #@%-ing embarrassing,” Stone yelled at the ref while slamming his stick into the glass. So is the Senators power play. …
THINGS I THINK I THUNK: Boucher seriously considered putting Colin White in the lineup, but after the rookie centre participated in his first warmup of the series, the decision was made to go with a seventh defenceman in Ben Harpur instead. “We weren’t sure who wasn’t going to be able to go,” said Boucher. “Whitey could have played.” He certainly couldn’t have hurt … The teams combined to ice the puck eight times before the game was 2-0. Then the Penguins didn’t let the Senators have the puck long enough to ice it … Sidney Crosby took pity on the Senators when he hit the post with four minutes left in the second … The Senators sure are doing a good job of easing Matt Murray back into the playoffs. When you can’t remember a goalie’s biggest save of the game, it’s usually because he didn’t make one.
BUTT ENDS: As noted by our pal Dean Brown, in games officiated by Brad Meier before Sunday, the Senators were 1-11 over the last three years but 3-0 in these playoffs. Make that 3-1 now. Meier had no impact on the game whatsoever, other than to bog the Senators down with four power plays … Also celebrating birthdays on Sunday were Senators head athletic therapist Gerry Townend (50) and former Senators centre Todd White (62) … It wasn’t all bad for the Senators – Turris won 19 of 25 face-offs, and as a team the Senators took 60 percent of the draws … Also meaningless on this day was the fact the Senators outhit the Penguins 53-28. Tommy Wingels and Viktor Stalberg tried to give the Senators an energy line by leading the way with eight and seven, respectively … I thought I saw a typo somewhere up above – oh yes, Todd White turned 52 .. And finally, these words of wisdom from captain Erik Karlsson: “From something bad comes something good usually. We’ve just got to really use that as motivation, and come out a lot better on Tuesday. Whether we win or lose, we can do things a lot better. They’re going to play a good game on Tuesday as well. We’ve got to be prepared for it.”