COLUMN: When It Reigns, It Pours

Anyone seen the Ottawa Senators? Maybe they were out too late last night celebrating goalie Craig Anderson‘s birthday because it sure seemed like it.

Anderson pulled off his best Marc-Andre Fleury impression by giving up four goals in the first period and giving his team virtually no chance to win. After absolutely dominating the Penguins in the first three games, Anderson has faultered over the past two and was even pulled in game five.

The Penguins took this one 7-0. It wasn’t close from Olli Maatta‘s opening of the scoring to Trevor Daley capping it off mid-way through the third on the power play, it was never in doubt.

The Penguins dominated from the opening face off. It was inevitable that they’d at least score but the seven goals weren’t just a fluke. They were legitimately the better team.

They know better than anyone as the defending champs that, when it reigns, it pours. As hungry as they were last year, they’re more hungry this time around.

I’ll give you this, the Penguins do look disinterested at times. They look tired, slow, sloppy, lackadaisical. You name it. But, they are a tired team after last year’s run. And I think they want nothing more than to win a Stanley Cup as a team that is nowhere close to 100%.

Between injuries, fatigue, and a lack of dominant performances from their star players, the Penguins want to win this to show the NHL that they legitimately are the best team in the league.

Take a look at the box score. There were two players in uniform this afternoon, sans Matt Murray, that didn’t put a shot on goal; Mark Streit and Jake Guentzel.

Everyone wanted in on the action tonight. That’s big. The team as a whole knew that they won’t score by looking for the perfect play and skating right into the trap. They used the momentum from a big series turning game four victory and zoomed into game five wanting it more. Poor Craig Anderson got abused on his birthday.

Another tidbit from the score sheet tonight: The Penguins had seven players with two or more points on the night. They got a three assist night out of Evgeni Malkin and Carter Rowney. Yes, Carter Rowney. He’s been sensational in this postseason.

Murray may not have been the star tonight despite his shutout but he deserves credit. He turned away 25 shots, which is a high number for how badly Ottawa was outplayed, for his first shutout this postseason in only his second start. He wants to be the Murray that won game after game last year to lead Pittsburgh to glory.

These reigning champions are one win away from moving to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive season. They want the chance to defend that title. 

Anaheim or Nashville await them if they are to win Tuesday. They control their own destiny now. It’s time to push through to the Finals.

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