PITTSBURGH — Thanks to James Neal’s hat trick, the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated game five of their 2013 NHL Playoffs series against the Ottawa Senators from start to finish with a 6-2 victory.
The win puts the Pens into the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2009, with their opponent to be determined possibly Saturday, if the Boston Bruins closes out it’s series against the New York Rangers.
Boston is current up 3-1 on New York.
Neal picked up a hat trick, with goals in the second and third periods, including the last goal of the game that came on a breakaway highlighted by a perfect toe-drag to set up the shot. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist in the game. Other goals came from Brenden Morrow and Kris Letang.
Ottawa, showing a “never-give-up” attitude, had goals from Milan Michalek in the second period, and Kyle Turris in the third. It may be the last game for Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, who has contemplated retirement.
After the Senators elimination last year, speculation was rampant about the Swede captain hanging up the skates, after their loss to Pittsburgh, it looks to be the same again this year.
Penguins goalie Tomas Vokun was very strong in the net, stopping 31 of 33 shots. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson stopped 33 of 39 shots.
The Penguins will face the winner of the Boston Bruins/New York Rangers series. Boston has a chance to close out their series if they win on Saturday, as they lead the series 3-1.