Thursday, May 18, 2017

Plus-Minus: Slow start dooms Pens in 5-1 Game 3 loss to Sens

By Brian Metzer
May 18, 2017

Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates with Alex Burrows #14 after scoring a goal against Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 17, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MINUS – Another poor start dooms the Penguins
Ottawa Senators’ forward Mike Hoffman put his team up 1-0 just 48 seconds into Game 3, and the Penguins never recovered. They might have had a better chance of overcoming that initial deficit if they didn’t allow three goals more over a span of 2:18 later in the period. That meltdown saw coach Mike Sullivan pull goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the first time in these playoffs. The Penguins have now been shut out through the first and second periods in all three games of the Eastern Conference Final.
PLUS – Even in a loss, Pens PK was able to shine
During a game full of ugly moments, the Penguins’ penalty kill served as a major bright spot. The unit was called to action on four occasions against the Senators and killed off each opportunity. Defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole did the heavy lifting, logging over four minutes each. Defenseman Ron Hainsey and forwards Carter Rowney, Carl Hagelin, and Nick Bonino also contributed. The Penguins have now killed off all seven Senators’ power plays in the series.
MINUS – Injuries caught up to Pens blue line
The Penguins dressed seven defensemen in Game 3, which included both Trevor Daley and Mark Streit. Though they had an extra body, the absence of Justin Schultz was felt. The pairings were a work in progress throughout the game, but there never seemed to be any cohesion, and the seven defensemen combined to roll up a minus-10 rating. Daley, who had been out of the lineup since Game 5 against the Washington Capitals, finished the game with two shots, two penalty minutes and a minus-1. Streit picked up an assist on the Penguins' late power play goal but definitely looked as if he was working through some rust early in the game. He was beaten to the net by Derick Brassard on the Senators’ third goal and looked a step slow on a couple of other plays. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the coaching staff go back to a standard 12 forwards and six defensemen configuration for Game 4.
PLUS – Crosby breaks through for first goal in seven games
Sidney Crosby has been held without a goal since Game 1 against the Capitals, but he ended a seven game drought with a power play goal at 6:07 of the third period. He tipped Phil Kessel’s pass behind goaltender Craig Anderson, but it was far too little too late. The good news is that Crosby had only one other goal drought of seven or more games this season and once he broke that, he scored nine goals in his next 10 games.

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