PITTSBURGH – The Ottawa Senators have plenty of respect for Sidney Crosby.
As they’re quickly learning, perhaps a little too much.
Working in wide-open swaths of ice left by Ottawa’s tentative defense, the Pittsburgh superstar needed just over one period to complete his second playoff hat trick and lift the Penguins to a 4-3 victory Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“He’s one of the best in the game and if you give him time, space to make plays, to shoot puck he’s going to burn you,” Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips said. “That’s what we did tonight. We gave him too much room and he took advantage.”
Pittsburgh leads the series 2-0 heading into Game 3 on Sunday in Ottawa.
Kyle Turris, Colin Greening and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, who have never won a series after dropping the first two games.
Brenden Morrow added his first playoff goal in more than five years for the Penguins, and Tomas Vokoun made 19 saves to help Pittsburgh move within two victories of advancing to the conference finals for the first time since it won the 2009 Stanley Cup.
“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.”
Crosby beat Craig Anderson three times in three very different ways in the game’s first 22 minutes, sending Anderson to the bench in favor of backup Robin Lehner.
The 21-year-old year’s presence seemed to calm the Senators down. He made a series of spectacular saves but Ottawa coach Paul MacLean doesn’t expect there to be a switch when the series heads north. Neither does Anderson, who didn’t take the benching personally.
“I think the tone of the game changed and we started to play a lot better,” Anderson said. “Maybe it was a wakeup call for everybody.”