OTTAWA -- This was Game 6 one year later - without a fight.
Rummage through the footlocker of memory to last spring when the Pittsburgh Penguins, the eventual Stanley Cup champions, found themselves in Philadelphia, trailing 3-0, in Game 6. That was the moment Penguins forward
Now fast-forward to Saturday night in Ottawa. The Penguins, who like last year had failed to close out a series in five games, again fell into a 3-0 hole on the scoreboard. This one wasn't especially pretty.
With the unappetizing prospect of Game 7 looming, the Penguins, who at times this season have appeared to be lollygagging their way through a Stanley Cup defense, thumbed through the playbook. They were brushing up on the old formulas that can lead to another championship.
"I told Max," Penguins coach
"We had a similar situation in Philly, this time minus the fight,"
Informed by a glorious past -- this includes winning all four series on the road en route to the Cup in 2009 - the Penguins took a bold step into the future. Well, at least into the second playoff round. Instead of a fight, a gritty Cooke rebound goal midway through the second period cut the deficit to a manageable two goals and changed the tenor of the game. The Penguins came in waves, outshooting Ottawa 18-4 in the third period, while the Senators collapsed around goalie
"One of the things we talked about going into the playoffs was maintaining the focus," Bylsma said. "Staying unflappable in whatever comes our way, whether that's losing a game or situations in a game when we get a goal called back. It's about keeping to the game plan. Tonight was probably our best game in that (regard.) Our bench was rock solid. Focused."
Crosby was held without a point after five straight multiple-point games.
"It says a lot," Crosby said of the Penguins goal scorers. "(Malkin and I) are going to do a lot to create things, but some nights it might not go in. We've still had to do things out there ... be responsible (defensively), find ways to help, but we have guys who can step up and score those goals."
In a perfect world, the Penguins would have rolled through Ottawa in four or at least jumped on the opportunity to finish the series at home in five. That would have helped their bodies after a long season. But a series-clinching Game 6 victory in Ottawa can be therapy for the mind. Said defenseman