Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy last season as the league’s best defenseman. A legitimate argument could be make that Craig Anderson should have been a Vezina Trophy finalist this year. Sidney Crosby isn’t very impressed by that. Crosby had one of those games, which he has often, that make you wonder why Andrew Fillipponi has a job talking sports:
The days of calling Sidney Crosby the best hockey player in the world are over.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) April 23, 2012
It took 17:99 of game time for Sidney Crosby to do what only one other player in Penguin history has done which is score multiple career playoff hat tricks. The only thing that prevented it from being even more impressive as a natural hat trick was a goal from Kyle Turris at the midway point of the first period.
The Penguins’ best player made the Senators’ two best players look extremely average. And that’s being generous. The first two goals that Crosby scored, Karlsson acted as nothing but a turnstile with Crosby blowing right past him at the blue line. Anderson provided no help on the back end. Both goals were scored on the short side and were pucks that Anderson normally stops.
Karlsson wasn’t on the ice for the third Crosby goal but he was just as much to blame for it as he was for the other two. He took a hooking penalty on Matt Cooke just 49 seconds into the second period. Just 26 seconds later, Crosby made Penguin history with his second playoff hat trick and chased Anderson from the game. He all but chased Karlsson from the game as well who was used very sparingly in the third period.
It was important for Crosby to dominate the way he did because Tomas Vokoun did not have his best night. The Penguins out shot the Senators by 20 and tripled their amount of power play opportunities. That being said, they only won this game by a goal. Just 40 seconds after Crosby notched the hat trick, Colin Greening scored his second goal in as many games to pull the Sens back within one.
Ottawa was able to fight back a few times but they were never able to fight all the way back. Brenden Morrow and James Neal could arguably be called the two most disappointing Penguins in the playoffs so far not named Marc-Andre Fleury. They made a small stride in making up for it when each of them got a stick on a shot from Paul Martin just seconds after the expiration of a penalty to Guilliame Latendresse which ended up being the only goal to get passed backup goaltender Robin Lehner.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the only goal of the third period. After that goal was scored, Vokoun was finally able to lock things down and hold on to the win. The defense deserves some credit in the final period as well. The Sens only mustered up six shots in an entire period which they entered down by two goals.
The Penguins held serve and retained their home ice advantage through the first two games of this series. Now the two teams will head to Ottawa for games three and four. Everyone knows that the Penguins do not like to win series at home. That probably means they either sweep the Sens away or else they totally fall apart and this goes six games. Also judging by recent history, it now strikes me as stupid that I picked the Pens to win this series in five games. Oh well.