Sidney Crosby scored his second career playoff hat trick on Friday as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Crosby took advantage of an Ottawa defense playing on its heels a bit, scoring three times in a little more than a period. The Penguins went on to win the game 4-3, with a chance to put a stranglehold on the series at it now moves back to Ottawa.
Though Ottawa’s defense paid extra attention to Crosby, they could not stop him on Friday night.
“He’s one of the best in the game and if you give him time, space to make plays, to shoot puck he’s going to burn you,” Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips said. “That’s what we did tonight. We gave him too much room and he took advantage.”
The Penguins have now taken care of business in the opening part of the series, winning both home games and looking very much like the team many picked to win the Stanley Cup.
“You want to play well at home and make sure you get here,” Crosby said. “We did that, we got two wins. I don’t think your mindset changes. We know that it’s going to get harder.”
Pittsburgh stumbled a bit in the first round, allowing the New York Islanders to stretch the series to six games thanks in part to poor goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. But the Penguins have turned to veteran Thomas Vokoun since then, and he has been more than enough to put them past the Islanders and dig the Senators into a hole.
“I think we outplayed them,” Vokoun said after Friday’s win. “The score could’ve been a lot worse if not for good play by their goalie. The win is the most important thing and we got that.”
The Penguins also shook off concerns that Sidney Crosby might not be fully recovered after taking a puck to the jaw late in the season and missing several weeks.
As the series shifts to Ottawa, the Senators could be in for a difficult time. The team has never won a series after dropping the first two games.
The Penguins and Senators play again on Sunday.