Senators flex scoring muscle in Game 3 romp over the Penguins

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators got here by playing stingy defense. They've survived with a relentless patience that comes with a trap that has frustrated the opposition to no end.

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Senators flexed a muscle that was new to them in a postseason that is becoming a bit magical -- a good old-fashioned romp.

It started with a goal from Mike Hoffman 48 seconds into the game and the Senators piled on from there, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 to open a 2-1 series lead.

How they did it: The Senators struck early and never relented. They deserve credit for coming ready to play in this game, in a way they didn't in Game 2, but the Penguins were also disorganized in the defensive zone. It might be the result of constant change and injuries on defense, which had two new players -- Mark Streit and Trevor Daley -- who made their Eastern Conference finals debut. Justin Schultz missed the game with an upper-body injury. Pittsburgh will have to tighten up in the defensive zone in Game 4 to avoid another disaster like this one. It was a balanced attack for the Senators, who had 10 players who registered at least one point.

Goalie change: Coming off a shutout, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury got the early hook in this one after allowing four goals on nine shots in the first period. The game marked the postseason debut for Matt Murray, who was injured in warm-ups of Game 1 of the playoffs and lost his starting job to Fleury, who has been outstanding. Murray finished the game with 19 saves in relief. But Fleury has built up enough equity this postseason that the Penguins should have no issue going back to him for Game 4.

Rare rout: Until this game, eight of the Senators' first nine playoff wins were by one goal. Six of those came in overtime. Ottawa has made a living winning close games, which might be why the bandwagon was slow to fill. Many of those wins, especially in overtime, had a coin-toss feel to them. Not this one, a rare easy win for the Senators. You have to go back to a 6-2 win over the New York Islanders on Dec. 19 to find the last Ottawa win by four or more goals.

Up next: This series keeps its every-other-day pace, with Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Friday in Ottawa.