Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Penguins look to vote Senators out of Office

By: MF,
The magic number is three as the Pittsburgh Penguins look to clinch home-ice advantage heading into the 2016 NHL Playoffs. A win tonight would be a significant step towards that goal. They will have to get past the Ottawa Senators tonight for those points. Even though the Senators were eliminated from the playoffs, they can still put a damper on things for the Penguins.

Even with the team battling injuries to some key players, the Penguins are finally clicking under the director of Head Coach Mike Sullivan (HCMS). Since his take over on December 14, 2015, they are 31-15-5. Overall they are 12 for their last 13 games and have won 20 road games for the ninth consecutive season, excluding the 2012-13 shortened season. Currently, the team is riding a six-game win streak and have won six-straight on the road. This is a team that is getting help from the whole lineup, and everyone is invested in the systems set up by HCMS.

During their six-game win streak, the Penguins have 19 players that have a point, 14 have a goal, and eight have five-plus points. They are also averaging 38.7 shots per game. The Penguins are putting shots on net and getting rewarded for it. No one is on fire more than Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, who are leading the way. Crosby has two goals, four assists, and six points during the streak and earned his 600th National Hockey League (NHL) career assist. As for Letang, he has two goals, seven assists, and nine points during the same span.

The defense has been a key to the Penguins winning. They have the confidence to jump up on rushes and give the Penguins numbers on plays. A big reason for that is the great work by the netminders. Matt Murray has been holding down the fort lately as Marc-Andre Fleury is currently out with a concussion. Murray has gone 3-0-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average this week, which is why the NHL named him the third star of the week. He also earned his first NHL shutout, and his shutout sequence lasted for 122:05. Murray is even riding his five-game winning streak going into tonight's game.

The Penguins need to continue to play their game, pressure and stay focused. If they keep playing the way they have been, then the Senators should be worried along with the rest of the NHL. Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Kunitz - Crosby - Hornqvist
Hagelin - Bonino - Kessel
Kuhnhackl - Cullen - Fehr
Sheary - Sundqvist - Bennett

Daley - Letang
Dumoulin - Lovejoy
Cole - Schultz

Murray in the net!

Play by Play
PENS 5 Senators 3

3rd Period

0:06 - CROSBY SCORES AN EMPTY NETTER! Letang starts up ice passes over to Crosby who puts it in the empty net! 5-3 Pens

1:50 - Sens have an empty net.

3:12 - Kunitz with a chance!

5:57 - HAGELIN SCORES! Hagelin rips a backhanded from the side (hard angle to score from) past the left pad of Hammond! Pens take over the lead 4-3!

9:05 - Murray is caught out of his net and leaves behind a wide open net. Letang comes in big time to prevent a goal. Part-time goalie.

9:36 - Sheary takes a stick blade to the face on a follow through. He heads straight to the locker room as a result. No call on the play.

11:32 - What a great penalty kill by the Pens as Fehr is set free. Unreal job.

12:00 - Five-on-three is killed off as Sundqvist is released. Murray was unreal and the penalty killers were amazing. 28 second power play remaining for the Senators.

13:32 - Not good at all as Fehr is called for elbowing, which gives the Senators a five-on-three power play for 1:32.

14:00 - Now the Senators will get another crack at the power play as Sundqvist is found guilty of high-sticking. Penalty kill time for the Pens.

15:41 - HAGELIN SCORES! Hagelin drives down the center and gets the puck around a Senator to put it past Hammond! Things are tied up at three.

17:19 - Good kill by the Pens. Great work by Murray.

19:19 - Penalty killers are called out for the Pens as Letang is off to the box for tripping.

20:00 - The guys are back on the ice for the third period! The Pens have to keep up the pressure and take over the lead! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00 - Second period horn sounds with the Pens trailing the Senators 3-2.

2:29 - The Pens have gotten their legs moving and are starting to play like they have been for the past six games.

4:47 - CROSBY SCORES! The Pens win the offensive zone faceoff! Letang fires from the blue line, but it's blocked! The puck bounces around the slot area! Crosby picks up at the side and puts it behind Hammond! 3-2 Senators

7:23 - Another successful penalty kill for the Senators.

9:23 - Pens are headed back onto the power play as Robinson makes a return visit to the box.

10:44 - Zibanejad gets a breakaway, but Murray shuts him down! Things are starting to open up.

11:22 - Cullen and Kuhnhackl get a two-on-one chance, but Cullen fires wide!

12:12 - HORNQVIST SCORES! Hornqvist battles behind the net and brings the puck to the front! Hammond makes the first stop, but Hornqvist keeps whacking at the loose puck! It bounces up over the skate of Hammond! 3-1 Senators

12:21 - Senators kill off the Pens power play. Hammond was solid for them in the net. Schultz is back from the locker room.

14:21 - Now a chance for the Pens on the power play as Robinson takes a seat for boarding. His his on Schultz was hard. Schultz heads to the locker room.

15:13 - The Pens need to get moving, play physical, work it deep, shoot the puck, and play their system of hockey if they want to get back into this one.

16:27 - Smith scores. This is not good. Smith comes flying in and fires a hard shot over the shoulder of Murray. 3-0 Senators

17:39 - Hoffman scores. Hoffman fires from the side and it bounces off the stick of Murray, then the arm, and ends up in the back of the net. 2-0 Senators

20:00 - We are back for the second period! The Pens need to step up offensively, which usually happens during this period! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00 - First period ends and the Senators have the 1-0 lead over the Pens.

0:08 - Crosby rings one off the goal post! Now shots are at seven for the Pens.

0:41 - Cullen is able to hunt down the puck and get behind the Senators' defense, but Hammond robs him of a goal.

1:21 - Only four shots so far for the Pens, which is the lowest they have had in a period.

2:10 - Still not much offense for the Pens right now as the Senators are commanding more time in the offensive zone.

4:28 - Murray makes two great saves up front as a result of Dumoulin's stick breaking in front.

6:02 - Kessel makes a great pass play over to Hagelin coming down the wing. He goes over to Schultz who is driving the center. Hammond makes the save.

7:45 - The Senators are getting some quality offensive zone time and the Pens have been more on the defense.

8:17 - Karlsson scores. The Pens lose a defensive zone faceoff. Karlsson tries for a cross-ice pass, but it bounces off Hornqvist and it goes past Murray. 1-0 Senators

10:56 - Not the most exciting start we have seen this season. Though the Pens have proven they are more of a second period team.

14:02 - Good pace to start this game. 

16:28 - Successful penalty kill for the Pens as Lovejoy is set free. 

18:28 - The first power play of the game will go to the Senators as Lovejoy sits for hooking. Murray made two great saves to start this one. 

20:00 - The puck has dropped and this game is underway! The Pens need to stick to their systems and play smart! Lets Go Pens!  

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