Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators can tee off early this spring, as their season came to an end tonight. Despite the reformation of Ottawa's top line of Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson, the Sens were outplayed again by their counterparts in the black and gold. One important thing: take nothing away from Martin Gerber, he kept the Senators in every game in this series, they just couldn't give him the support he needed on the offensive side of the puck. The night ended with several Sens fans altering their chant of GO Sens GO to the more post-post season version: GOLF Sens GOLF.
The Sens came out playing like exactly what they were tonight-- a desperate hockey team. Both teams battled hard, with the Penguins actually carrying the play during the first period. The Pens recorded 14 shots (to the Senators' 5) in the first period. Had Martin Gerber decided that this series was out of reach, it would have very easily been 3 or 4-0 by the end of the first. However, thanks to solid goaltending by Gerber, the teams played even through the first twenty minutes.
The second period got underway, and it was the Pens who once again struck first. Dany Heatley took a pretty bad penalty, a slash in open ice on Evgeni Malkin, leading to a Penguins' power play in the first minute of the second period. Gonchar sent a quick shot-pass to Sidney Crosby, who tapped it cross-crease to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin's initial attempt was denied by Gerber, but he was able to one-hand the rebound past Marty on the short side.
Ottawa responded later in the 2nd, with Cory Stillman banging home his second goal of the series right in front of the Penguins' net. You could feel the momentum begin to shift after that goal. So could Jarkko Ruutu.
As he has all season long, Ruutu once again comes up with a HUGE goal. Whether it's been in the shootout, on the breakaway, or just crashing the net at even strength, Ruutu has scored some clutch goals this season for the Pens, and tonight was no different. Tyler Kennedy was able to feather a pass ahead to Ruutu, who raced in 1-on-1 with an Ottawa defenseman. Ruutu stopped on a dime, and looked as though he would pass the biscuit to a trailing teammate. But, to the surprise of everyone, including Gerber, Ruutu whips a Crosby-esque spinning backhand shot toward the net, and beats Gerber through the five-hole.
After that, Vermette clearly boots a puck into the Pens' net. Intentional or not, the rule states that "a clear kicking motion" will warrant a decision of "no goal." You know the dudes in the War Room broke out the Leafs jerseys after they watched Bryan Murray cringe at the no-goal call by Kerry Fraser. Sweet. 2-1 Pens. End of 2nd period.
It was shutdown time for Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pens in the third period. The Sens' "top line" failed to get anything going. Fleury stopped 21 of 22 shots in the game. The McAmmond-Neil-Donovan line was the Senators' best combination this series, and they got some decent chances against MAF in the third, but no dice.
Just as Elvis ran into the Fat Lady on his way out of ScotiaJoke Place, Sidney Crosby added an empty-netter from center ice, and Bryan Murray was on the horn with his favorite country club in Florida. (Crosby to self: "Boo that, jokes.")
The Pittsburgh Penguins complete their first series sweep since the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals series when the Pens swept the Blackhawks (and owned Hasek in Game 4) in 4 games. Now all that's left to do is wait, and rest. Good luck to the Pens in the second round. Good effort to the Senators, more specifically to Martin Gerber, and Daniel Alfredsson for putting his own agenda aside to try to help his team. Good luck to Bryan Murray on the golf course. Remember, when you miss a putt, you can't blame your caddy for moving the hole; it didn't go anywhere, you just suck. Boo that.