Pittsburgh Penguins Advance to Eastern Conference Finals With Rout of Senators

Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Ottawa Senators
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Ottawa Senators
May 24 2013 Pittsburgh PA USA Pittsburgh Penguins players raise their sticks in a salute to the fans after defeating the Ottawa Senators in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6 2 to close out the series Charles LeClaire USA TODAY Sports

Two days after embarrassing the Senators with a seven goal outburst, the Pittsburgh Penguins closed out their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with a 6-2 victory on home ice. Dan Bylsma‘s star studded attacking armada was as advertised in Game 5, as they snuffed out the cinderella Senators.

The seventh seeded Senators, who endured major injuries to stars Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson during the regular season, showed remarkable perseverance to even reach the postseason. With the Jack Adams award for coach of the year likely guaranteed for Sens coach and mustache aficionado Paul MacLean, Ottawa pulled off a remarkable upset to send the second seeded Montreal Canadiens to the golf course in the opening round. With their stars finally back on the ice, hopes were high that another upset could be in the offing.

Unfortunately the miracle was not to be for fans from the Canadian capital. The Penguins simply had too much depth. As the waves of Pittsburgh stars continued to crash on the tired Ottawa defense in Game 4, the dam finally broke. After that point the goals simply would not stop going in.

Six and a half minutes into the first period, trade deadline acquisition Brenden Morrow tipped a Mark Eaton centering pass off his own skate and by Craig Anderson. From that point on James Neal and Kris Letang who combined for seven points in Game 4 took over.

Neal finished the game with a hat trick, giving him five goals in his last two games. Letang followed up a four assist effort with a goal and two assists. When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can sit back and count on Pittsburgh’s secondary superstars to dominate, the Penguins become a very dangerous team.

Milan Michalek and Kyle Turris picked up the goals for Ottawa, but by the time they lit the lamp the game was well out of hand. After enjoying a remarkable if injury-hampered season, Craig Anderson ended the year on a low note. He surrendered 12 goals in his final two starts and will face a long summer of reflection ahead.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s seemingly troubled goaltending situation looks settled for now. After benching long time starter Marc-Andre Fleury, Dan Bylsma must be pleased with the success of veteran Tomas Vokoun who has been up to the challenge so far, especially when afforded tremendous goal support. Unlike Fleury, the 36-year-old has never won a Stanley Cup in his long career, but he looks to be the obvious starter in the next round.

As the first team to clinch a Conference Final place, the Penguins will now be afforded a few days rest, which they hope won’t add any rust to their scoring pace. They will await the winner of the Bruins-Rangers series which could end tonight if the Bruins win in Beantown. The confident Pens won’t be afraid of whichever team they face for the Prince of Wales Trophy, having beaten both Boston and New York three times each during the regular season.

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Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');