The Penguins took a step backward Friday. Their timing was perfect. A 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center staked the Penguins a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round Stanley Cup playoff series. “Not a situation you want to be in,” Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said before the loss. Game 3 is at Ottawa's ScotiaBank Place on Sunday. The Penguins will arrive in Canada's capital city with history on their side. During the Sidney Crosby era, the Penguins have won every playoff series in which they won the first two games played in Pittsburgh. Thing is, they had never won the first two games in Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center. In fact, they have not won the first two games in Pittsburgh since the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. “Every game you win is huge, obviously, to change momentum,” defenseman Kris Letang. “It feels good when you're up 2-0 and you go there playing the right way, playing your system and feeling confident with it.” Seven players that dressed against Ottawa on Friday know firsthand how playoff hockey once worked around these parts. On their runs to the Cup Final in 2008 and '09, the Penguins swept either Games 1 and 2 or 3 and 4 at Mellon Arena in seven of eight playoff series. The lone exception was the 2008 Cup Final, in which they split Games 3 and 4 and lost in six to Detroit. That history — not the home struggles of more recent postseasons — was what coach Dan Bylsma wanted his players to focus on in the two days between Games 1 and 2. “We need to treat it as a really big game for us,” Bylsma said before Game 2. Crosby, their battered and bruised captain, treated Game 2 exactly as that — and his play was as brilliant as his body is black and blue. Playing with a surgically repaired jaw, the most significant of his many ailments, Crosby recorded his second playoff hat trick. It was his first hat trick since Dec. 2, 2010 — a month before his career was halted for about 15 months by concussion symptoms. The Penguins needed every one of Crosby's goals to hold off the feisty Senators, who finished Game 2 without goalie Craig Anderson. Ottawa coach Paul MacLean pulled Anderson — a mercy offering, seemingly — after Crosby's hat-trick goal early in the second period. Winger Brenden Morrow's first goal of the postseason came against Senators backup Robin Lehner, but Ottawa netted the next two markers to make for a competitive final 17 minutes.
Behind Crosby’s hat trick, Penguins sneak past Senators
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | May 18