The Senators lack killer instinct?
Tell that to the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose summer holiday began after a 3-0 loss to the Senators last night at Scotiabank Place. The Senators handily won the best-of-7 playoff series 4-1.
The Senators, who got goals from Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette and Dany Heatley, will advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the fifth time.
"It seemed like when Heatley scored, the weight of the world came off our shoulders," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We got it going from there. Our defensive game and responsible play were there."
Goalie Ray Emery, with his first career playoff shutout, was spectacular.
"The way we won that series just shows the dedication we had to our system all year," said Emery. "We had steps back during the regular season, but we were able to get the job done. We know we have a long way to go."
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov was taken to the dressing room midway through the third with what appeared to be a shoulder injury after a Gary Roberts hit, but the Senatorsí tower of power returned to action.
The victory is going to give the Senators some time to rest some bumps and bruises. The second round wonít start until next Thursday. At this point, the Senators only know theyíll face a New York-area team. They arenít sure if itíll be the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers or thereís a slim chance it could the Islanders. If itís the Devils, the Senators will open on the road.
The Senators used their speed to penetrate the suspect Pittsburgh defence with role players like Kelly, Vermette, Dean McAmmond and Christoph Schubert playing a big part.
The Senators broke the game wide open in the second. Kelly, with his third goal of the series, gave Ottawa a 3-0 lead at 17:55, beating disheartened Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vermette gave the Senators a 2-0 lead on a breakaway pass from Kelly. After a turnover by Sergei Gonchar, Vermette was sent in alone and beat Fleury through the five-hole at 6:20.
Heatley finally got on the scoresheet in the playoffs by opening the scoring on the power play at 1:08 of the second. That seemed to take the life out of the Penguins who had plenty of chances, but werenít able to score.
Really, the start of this game was typical of the whole series for the Penguins. They had plenty of chances ó including two 5-on-3 power plays ó but werenít able to get the puck past Emery. The Senators didnít even get a shot on net until 11:35 of the first period. Up to that point, Emery had to make big stops on Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
"They were tough, but we did a great job," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We did a lot of good things and great goaltending never hurts either."
While Crosby was Pittsburghís best player by far, he had a difficult time dealing with the constant attention from Volchenkov and Chris Phillips.
"You have to stay focused and be consistent (in the playoffs). We had a lapse in Game 3 and itís important to be consistent," said Crosby. "The last two games were close games. You canít let teams hang around. They got a one-goal lead and they didnít leave it at one. They didnít just let us get back into it."