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GARRIOCH

Boring, eh? Senators' offence explodes in Game 3 victory

By Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun

OTTAWA — Never a dull moment.

Accused of being boring in just about every corner of the hockey world after two games of the East final, the Ottawa Senators left the defending Stanley Cup champions red-faced and embarrassed with a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 on Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre to take a 2-1 series lead.

Not only did the Senators frustrate the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, Ottawa chased goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and brought Matt Murray off the bench after a four-goal outburst in the first.

The Senators, boring? They were anything but in this one and now they’re only two wins away from a trip to the Cup final.

With a victory in Game 4 on Friday night at home, the Senators can push the Penguins to the brink of elimination after they did the job with all hands on deck in this one.

While Craig Anderson was only beaten by Sidney Crosby, for the Sens, Kyle Turris, Zack Smith, Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot and Derick Brassard did the scoring in this one.

Crosby’s first goal of the series — and also his first point — with 13:53 left in the third broke Anderson’s bid for a shutout and an upset Malkin was given a misconduct with two minutes left while different Senators had two-point nights.

Not all the news was good, the Senators finished the game without winger Alex Burrows. He left midway through the second period after a hit by Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole in front of the net. Burrows had to be helped to the dressing room and he wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg as he made his way to the bench.

The Senators weren’t the least bit pleased with their effort in a 1-0 loss Monday in Pittsburgh and Ottawa was determined to push the pace in front of a raucous crowd that hasn’t seen an East final game here since 2007.

“We’ve played Pittsburgh a lot of over the course of the years,” captain Erik Karlsson said before the game. “We have a lot of guys who know their team, know what they have and what they can do. They’re a really good team, they won it last year and we know we’re going to be as close to our best as we possibly can.

“We’re going to need that from everyone. That’s going to be a challenge.”

Well, the Senators lived up to the challenge.

Through 40 minutes, the Senators held a 5-0 lead on the Penguins. They scored four of those in the first while Turris was the first to beat Murray at 18:18 of the second. That was Turris’ fourth goal of the playoffs.

The Senators were at their best with what was their most dominating effort of the playoffs. Even when they did give up scoring chances, Anderson was dialed in and there to make the saves. He wasn’t tested a whole lot, however, he made a couple of good glove saves off Kessel and Carter Rowney in the second.

The Senators were given a standing ovation as they left the ice with a 4-0 lead after the first period. They came out strong, they out-hustled the Penguins and they were able to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s depleted defence.

Really, the start was shocking and stunning.

With 7:08 left in the first, Fleury was headed for the bench and Murray saw his first action of the playoffs. Fleury was pulled when he allowed his fourth goal on nine shots and that came after Smith scored on a wraparound. Only 34 seconds earlier, Brassard’s fourth of the playoffs had given the Senators 3-0 advantage.

The Senators got a pretty good bounce to take a 2-0 lead when Methot was credited with his second of the playoffs after it deflected off Cole and into the net. There wasn’t much Fleury could do, but the Penguins badly needed a stop and they weren’t getting any.

Those three goals came in a span of 2:18, which is a new franchise record in the playoffs to beat the previous mark of four minutes set in 2002 against Toronto.

It didn’t take long for the Senators to get the crowd into it. Only 48 seconds into the first, Hoffman banked one off Fleury from behind the net to take the lead.

Coach Guy Boucher hoped being home would help spark the Senators.

“I think either home or being on the road doesn’t change your X’s and O’s and your game plan. But in terms of energy, of course, when you do something ‘Wow’ and your crowd is into it, it enhances what you’re doing and sometimes makes it look better than it is,” Boucher said before the game.

On this night, everything was working for the Senators.

bgarrioch@postmedia.com