It’s no secret the Ottawa Senators want to play with an edge. But their physicality could end up backfiring, resulting in stupid, costly penalties. That was certainly what happened in Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the seemingly unstoppable Pittsburgh Penguins.
After seeing the Penguins vault out to an early 2-0 lead, the Senators likely wondered if this game had any chance of being close. Craig Anderson struggled mightily, allowing Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby to notch a hat trick less than 30 minutes in. Two of those goals came on the man advantage, something that played a large role in Ottawa going home down two games.
The first period was all Penguins. They possessed the puck, made smart decisions and showed exactly why many people had them favored to win the Stanley Cup. Then the Senators woke up, getting two different breakaways. But Pittsburgh netminder Tomas Vokoun committed highway robbery.
Going forward, the Senators must find a way to play smart while not completely abandoning their physical game. They have the ability, as evidenced in their first-round series win over the Montreal Canadiens. The offense also exposed any of the Penguins weaknesses. That being said, their number of penalties must be limited because no goaltender can keep the NHL‘s highest scoring team down forever.
While losing two games doesn’t automatically eliminate the Senators from Stanley Cup contention, their lack of discipline very well could. If it does, Ottawa has no one to blame but themselves.