The Pittsburgh Penguins, behind James Neal, made sure game 5 on Friday night would be an elimination game for the Ottawa Senators. Playing in Ottawa for game 3 and a 2-1 series lead, the Penguins put on an offensive clinic against the Senators. Neal had two goals and an assist in the 7-3 win.
The first period looked like anything but a blowout for Pittsburgh as Ottawa scored less than three minutes in and actually had a 2-1 lead after the first period. That’s when the Penguins offense took over as they scored six goals in a row. Neal, who hadn’t registered a goal in the series so far, made up for that with his outburst on Wednesday night. This is the type of player and offensive production Pittsburgh expected when they traded with the Dallas Stars for Neal.
Neal wasn’t the only player with multiple goals. Jerome Iginla also netted two goals for the Penguins. Iginla is also a transplant player. Coming over from the Calgary Flames, Iginla has helped spark an offense in a defensive minded league. If Neal and Iginla can make contributions like this and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play like they usually do, this team will be hard to beat.
Of course, they still have to finish off the Senators. With game 5 being played in Pittsburgh and the momentum in Pittsburgh’s favor, it’s hard to imagine an Eastern Conference Finals without Crosby and company. The last thing Pittsburgh wants to do is give any momentum back to Ottawa and see the series come back there for a game 6.