Penguins take control vs. Senators behind Crosby

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 18, 2013 at 2:17 am •  Published: May 18, 2013
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Dan Bylsma has spent more than four years watching Sidney Crosby be Sidney Crosby.

The Pittsburgh Penguins coach doesn't think his captain has ever been better than he was during a 4-3 victory over Ottawa on Friday night that put Pittsburgh in firm control of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Recording his second career playoff hat trick on a dazzling rush, a somewhat fortunate bounce and a blistering slap shot, Crosby powered Pittsburgh to a 2-0 series lead and had his coach reaching for superlatives.

"He's done a lot in a lot of different games for our team in different areas," Bylsma said. "But tonight I think it was his best."

Brenden Morrow added his first playoff goal in more than five years for Pittsburgh while Tomas Vokoun made 19 saves to remain unbeaten in four starts after taking over for struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

Just as importantly for the top-seeded Penguins, only two wins separate them from a trip to the conference finals for the first time since 2009, the last time they won the Stanley Cup. Game 3 is Sunday in Ottawa.

"You want to play well at home and make sure you get here," Crosby said. "We did that, we got two wins. I don't think your mindset changes. We know that it's going to get harder."

Kyle Turris, Colin Greening and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, but couldn't stop Ottawa from falling into a deep hole against the Eastern Conference's top seed. The Senators have never won a playoff series after dropping the first two games.

"I thought we got better in the game as it went along," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "We had the game to a one-goal game. We need to start the game where we finished."

The Senators insisted they didn't have to play a perfect game to hang with the Penguins, pointing to the way they controlled play at even strength for long stretches in a 4-1 loss in the series opener Tuesday night. Ottawa insisted if it could stay out of the penalty box and convert when it had the man advantage, it would be right there.

Despite doing both in the first period — killing two penalties and converting on Turris' bank shot on the power play — the Senators still trailed 2-1.

More to the point, they trailed Crosby 2-1.

The Pittsburgh captain became the fifth player in franchise history to record 100 playoff points in spectacular fashion. He collected an innocent-looking pass at the Pittsburgh blue line then darted up the left side. He split two Senators — including Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson — then ripped a shot under Anderson's pad to give the Penguins the lead 3:16 into the game.

Turris tied it with the first soft goal Vokoun has allowed since taking over for Fleury in Game 5 of the first-round series against the Islanders. Turris collected the puck near the left post and shot it off Vokoun and into the net.

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