PITTSBURGH — The reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins are now one win away from advancing to their second consecutive Stanley Cup finals. And the way they beat the Senators so convincingly 7-0 in Game 5 on Sunday, new evidence was provided that this banged-up group might just have more than enough left in the reserves to pull off a repeat.
This was their most impressive win since the first round, when the attrition of the postseason hadn’t yet kicked in.
How it happened: This is what the Penguins look like when they get balanced scoring. Absolutely dominant. For the second consecutive game, defenseman Olli Maatta opened the scoring for the Penguins, doubling his regular-season goal output in two playoff games. The Penguins piled on from there, with a dominant first period that chased Senators goalie Craig Anderson on his birthday. When Matt Cullen scored in the second period, it meant a player from each of the Penguins four lines along with a defenseman each had a goal.
Karlsson leaves early: As if the blowout loss wasn’t enough, defenseman Erik Karlsson appeared to injure his ankle when his skate got tangled with Scott Wilson‘s skate in the second period. He left the game and didn’t return. Needless to say, if this injury removes him for any length of time, it’s a brutal blow for a team that relies heavily on captain Karlsson, who has solidified his standing as the best defenseman in the game during this postseason. Factor in an injury to Codi Ceci and the Senators defense could be in real trouble heading into Game 6.
Brassard banged-up too: Late in the second period, Senators center Derick Brassard turned in to Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, a collision to Brassard’s head that sent him to the ice. Brassard immediately went down and stayed down for several seconds. He slowly returned to the bench, where he was hunched over while being evaluated. Eventually he left the bench and went down the tunnel for treatment. It wasn’t a dirty or vicious hit from Kunitz, but it got enough of Brassard to do damage.
What’s next: The Senators’ season is on the line when they return home for Game 6, which is at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday in Ottawa.