- The Penguins scored early and never really stopped, pounding the Senators in a Game 5 blowout that puts Ottawa one loss away from elimination.
The Pittsburgh Penguins played the role of party pooper Sunday on Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson's 36th birthday. Pittsburgh peppered Anderson, scoring four goals in the first period en route to a 7-0 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. The victory gives the Penguins a 3-2 series lead, and puts them one step closer to returning to the Stanley Cup Final and repeating as the NHL's champions.
Olli Maatta started the onslaught with a long-range slap shot at 8:14. Then Sidney Crosby tipped Trevor Daley's shot into the back of the net for a power play strike 3:49 later. Bryan Rust scored 4:01 after that at 16:04 to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead and chase Anderson from the Senators' net.
Backup Mike Condon filled in for 1:28 of ice time in the first period before Anderson found himself back in the crease. Anderson then allowed his fourth goal of the day, a backhander from Scott Wilson with 1:43 left in the opening frame.
The Senators made a goalie change once again, putting Condon back in the net to start the second. The switch wasn't effective. This time, it was Matt Cullen's turn to score for Pittsburgh. His wrist shot from the slot at 1:54 in the middle stanza gave the Penguins their fifth goal of the game.
Fifty seconds into the third period, Phil Kessel made it 6-0 for the Penguins. Daley capped the day off with goal No. 7 for the Penguins at 8:49 in the final frame.
After getting his first start of the postseason Friday, Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray was back in between the pipes Sunday. He made 25 saves in the shutout.
Ottawa's Anderson stopped 10 of 14 shots faced in the first period. Condon recorded 19 saves in relief.
Game 6 is set for Tuesday in Ottawa.
Karlsson leaves Game 5
Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson left in the second period Sunday. Before his departure, he had three shots and was a minus-one in 12:36 of ice time.
Heading into Game 5 Sunday, Karlsson not only led all Senators in points (15), assists (13) and plus-minus (13) this postseason, he also was the NHL's top defenseman in those three categories. Already skating with fractures in his foot, Ottawa can't afford to potentially be without Karlsson when the Senators face possible playoff elimination in Game 6.
Multiple outlets have reported that not only will the slick Swede skate in Tuesday's must-win game, but Guy Boucher says Karlsson, along with teammate Cody Ceci and Derick Brassard could have returned to finish Game 5.
Crosby stays hot
Crosby's first-period goal Sunday was his third in as many games. All three have come while Pittsburgh has been on the power play. The run follows a seven-game drought in which the center couldn't find the back of the net, though he did record three assists during that goalless stretch.
His current streak couldn't come at a better time. The Penguins are on the verge of a return trip to the Cup Final, and will need their top playmaker firing on all cylinders.
Crosby also made NHL history Sunday. With his primary assist on Kessel's goal in the third period, Crosby earned his 100th career postseason assist. He's the 22nd player in league history to reach that milestone.
No rust on Rust
After missing Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, Bryan Rust made his presence felt Sunday. He recorded a goal and an assist in 14:47 of ice time, including 1:23 on the penalty kill. He also logged two hits and a blocked shot and was a plus-two.
Sunday's goal was the sixth Rust has scored this postseason. Prior to Sunday, his last point came on a goal May 10 when the Penguins beat the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the second round. Rust's assist Sunday was his first during the 2017 playoffs.