The defending champions are one victory away from a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Pittsburgh Penguins cruised past the Ottawa Senators 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final Sunday. Pittsburgh defended home ice at the PPG Paints Arena and now holds a 3-2 lead in the series.
Pittsburgh ended the competitive portion of the contest in the first period with goals from Olli Maatta, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson.
The onslaught forced Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher to pull goaltender Craig Anderson after three goals, but he put his starter back in after Mike Condon saved a single shot. Anderson promptly allowed a fourth goal off the back of his own pads and created confusion for Dan Rosen of NHL.com:
Condon played the final two periods and finished with 19 saves on 22 shots after Anderson stopped just 10 of 14 shots. Condon wasn't much better than Anderson and allowed a second-period goal to Matt Cullen and third-period goals to Phil Kessel and Trevor Daley.
Anderson's performance was noteworthy since the Penguins' goaltending was the primary storyline entering the contest. Matt Murray took over for Marc-Andre Fleury during Pittsburgh's Game 3 loss and earned a series-tying victory in Game 4.
Pittsburgh stuck with Murray on Sunday, and he responded by saving all 12 shots he faced in the first period to maintain the initial momentum. In all, he stopped 25 Senators attempts in the shutout win.
Murray was overshadowed by the offense and didn't face any stifling pressure down the stretch with the win well in hand, but he still had to make the saves and likely earned another start in Game 6.
Murray's counterpart, Anderson, deserves plenty of blame for the loss, but his team did him no favors.
Maatta started the scoring with a slap shot past Anderson on the blocker side after Ottawa turned it over in its own zone. Rust found Maatta for the one-timer and his second straight game with a goal after notching just one throughout the entire regular season.
Ottawa right winger Mark Stone then went to the penalty box, and Pittsburgh responded with a power-play goal when Crosby redirected Daley's shot.
It marked three straight contests with a goal for the Penguins' leader, and the team noted one of the GOATs is enjoying the postseason:
As if the costly penalty and turnovers weren't enough, Rust beat Anderson for the third goal after Ottawa couldn't clear it from its own zone for nearly two full minutes.
Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star reacted to the sequence:
Things officially unraveled for Anderson when he returned and allowed the embarrassing fourth goal when Wilson threw one at the net and deflected it off his back.
Condon couldn't stop the bleeding and allowed Cullen's goal within the first two minutes of the second period when the center received a pass right in front of the net and buried it.
The replacement goaltender settled down for the rest of the second but couldn't prevent Ottawa's meltdown. Murray turned away the visitors' opportunities to cut into the lead, and Kessel joined the scoring party in the final period off a no-look pass from Crosby on a power play.
Daley stole from the Pittsburgh Steelers' playbook with a slap shot extra point to make it 7-0.
Fortunately for the Senators, Pittsburgh can't take any of its goals from Sunday into Tuesday's Game 6 in Ottawa. The Senators will start with a blank slate as they attempt to tie the series and force a decisive Game 7.