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The Ottawa Senators dominated from the opening faceoff to regain control in the Eastern Conference Final.
Four first-period goals helped the Senators earn a 5-1 Game 3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday, giving them a 2-1 lead in the series.
Derick Brassard, Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot and Kyle Turris each had a goal and an assist in the win, while Methot and Erik Karlsson finished with a plus-four rating.
Craig Anderson also starred in net, tallying 25 saves while allowing one goal after the game was already well in hand. It’s the third straight game this series where the veteran allowed just a single goal.
After the Senators were shut out last game, they attacked Marc-Andre Fleury early in this one.
The first score came just 48 seconds into the action when Hoffman bounced it off the goalie from a nearly impossible angle:
NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports
48 seconds was all it took for the @Senators to break the ice!
Stream → https://t.co/8I1Jyz3BLj #StanleyCup https://t.co/br64J1Rb8q
5/18/2017, 12:22:04 AM
This was just the start, however, as Ottawa scored on three straight shots in a span of just over two minutes:
NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports
First period summary: 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 and a little 😳
Stream → https://t.co/8I1Jyz3BLj https://t.co/JJ1EAzrbqL
5/18/2017, 1:03:48 AM
Those watching along were impressed by the performance:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
@Senators Senators scored 3 goals within 2 mins & 18 secs of each other, the fastest 3 goals in a postseason game in Senators franchise history.
5/18/2017, 12:50:58 AM
While the Senators only outshot the Penguins 12-10 after the first period, the 4-0 lead was significant.
Penguins Make Goalie Switch
Fleury didn’t even make it through the first period, coming out after allowing four goals on nine shots in under 13 minutes of ice time.
Tom Gulitti of NHL.com discussed the decision:
He was replaced by Matt Murray, the team’s original starter this season until suffering an injury before the start of the playoffs. Interestingly, this is the exact reverse of what happened last season as the rookie led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup title.
Murray responded with 19 saves and only one goal allowed, even that one coming on a tough one-on-one situation.
Considering his strong season, last year’s playoffs and his apparent return to full strength, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will have a tough decision to make for Game 4.
Solid Defense Closes Win
Ottawa unsurprisingly utilized a more conservative approach beginning with the second period. The defenders took few chances, keeping the puck away from their own net.
Even the four power-play chances featured little aggressiveness.
Meanwhile, Anderson did his job to stop everything in his path to prevent Pittsburgh from clawing back into the game.
The Senators were able to extend their lead late in the second on a hustle play by Turris where he simply beat his man to the puck in front of the net.
It took until the third period for the Penguins to finally break the shutout, with Sidney Crosby deflecting a shot in for a power-play goal:
Still, this was too little, too late for a team that was overmatched for much of the night.
Pittsburgh has plenty of question marks going into next game, but it has shown it can bounce back in the past. After a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 6 last round, the squad responded with a 2-0 Game 7 victory.
Despite the loss, the team will hope it can even the series in Game 4 Friday at 8 p.m. ET.