Ottawa Senators chase Pittsburgh Penguins’ goalie early to take NHL Eastern Conference finals lead

The Senators’ Derick Brassard, right, knocks the stick out of the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Ian Cole as they battle for the puck during the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs in Ottawa on Wednesday. (AP photo)

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Mike Hoffman and his Ottawa Senators teammates heard all the chatter on social media about their style of play, which some perceived as “boring.”

Their response? Well, LOL. And another big W.

Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zack Smith scored in a 2:18 span midway through the first period to chase goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Hoffman opened the scoring 48 seconds in, and the Senators blew it open against the sluggish Penguins a few minutes later with the fastest three goals in team playoff history. Kyle Turris made it 5-0 late in the second period.

“If we played a run-and-gun game that maybe some people would rather watch, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Hoffman said after routing the defending Stanley Cup champs. “So we use our assets and that’s what works.”

Senators center Zack Smith, right, celebrates his goal with teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Ottawa on Wednesday. (AP photo)

Sidney Crosby ended Craig Anderson’s shutout bid with a power-play goal in the third. Pittsburgh has scored a single goal in each game in the series, dropping the opener 2-1 in overtime and winning the second 1-0.

“It was a bad start,” Crosby said. “You don’t want to get down at any point, but to get down 4-0 is digging a pretty big hole.”

Anderson finished with 25 saves. Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots, and Matthew Murray made 19 saves in relief.

Game 4 is Friday night in Ottawa.