OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators needed less than 13 minutes to put away Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.
Ottawa got four goals past Marc-Andre Fleury in the first 12 minutes and 52 seconds — including the fastest three goals in team playoff history — and went on to top the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 Wednesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard, Mike Hoffman and Marc Methot each had a goal and an assist and Craig Anderson stopped 25 shots in the victory, which gives the Sens a 2-1 series edge with Game 4 ahead on Friday night.
Zack Smith also scored and Bobby Ryan had two helpers for Ottawa, who suddenly has the upper hand in a series most expected to go the Penguins way.
Sidney Crosby had the lone marker for Pittsburgh, which has scored only three goals all series. Fleury gave up four on nine shots and was replaced by Matt Murray, who made 19 saves.
Hosting their first Eastern Conference final game in 10 years, the Sens came out flying and scored after only 48 seconds. Hoffman got it by capitalizing on a Turris shot that bounced awkwardly wide of the goal. The 27-year-old stuffed the shot, standing to the left of the goal, just between the post and right pad of Fleury.
The waters smoothed a little after that — though the Pens struggled to get any good looks on Anderson — and then Ottawa struck for the fastest three goals in team playoff history. Scoring three in two minutes and 18 seconds, the Sens smashed the previous record of four minutes from Game 1 of a second-round series against Toronto in 2002.
Brassard got the first of three when he snatched an attempted Erik Karlsson dump-in and swung wide of the Pittsburgh goal. Ryan eventually gained possession down low and found Methot with a crafty pass. While his initial shot was stopped, the rebound bounced off Penguins defenceman Ian Cole and into the net.
It was the second goal of the playoffs for Methot, who went scoreless in 68 games during the regular season.
Brassard added his fourth of the post-season less than two minutes later, taking advantage of the Sens relentless offensive zone pressure before slipping behind the aging Mark Streit for the shot that beat Fleury.
Streit was making his playoff debut for the increasingly battered Pens, who lost Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust to upper-body injuries in a Game 2 victory. Pittsburgh, which did get Trevor Daley back from injury, also remained without injured winger Patric Hornqvist as well as No. 1 defenceman Kris Letang, who’s out for the season with a neck ailment.
Apparent miscommunication between the 39-year-old Streit and Cole led to Cole throwing the puck away shortly before Brassard’s goal.
Ottawa, looking crisp and confident, finished the flurry 24 seconds after the Brassard marker with Smith beating Fleury on a wrap-around, chasing Fleury from the game.
In question now is whether head coach Mike Sullivan turns to Murray, who helped deliver the Pens a Cup last season and was excellent in his first full NHL season, for Game 4 on Friday night or goes back to Fleury, who pitched a shutout in Game 2.
The crowd was delirious throughout the one-sided win and all the more so when their team got under the skin of the Penguins.
At one point late in the first, Dion Phaneuf levelled former Maple Leafs teammate Phil Kessel. Ryan came by with a shove seconds later as Kessel waved his stick in the air at the Sens winger in apparent frustration.
Towel-waving fans chanted Kessel’s name and later cheered as Mark Stone mixed it up with Evgeni Malkin.
Sens players have been enjoying their unexpected run to the conference final — buoyed by an always stingy defensive look. Clarke MacArthur noted Wednesday morning how nice it was to go to the rink when the sun was shining and weather was warm.
“I haven’t been on a run like this since junior stuff, when you’re going to the (Memorial) Cup,” said the former Medicine Hat Tiger. ”It’s pretty exciting.”
Anderson was solid when the Pens did make the odd bit of noise, though not all ended well for Ottawa.
Alex Burrows had to be helped to the dressing room midway through the second after getting tangled up in front of the net with Cole. He put no pressure on his left leg and didn’t return with a lower-body injury.
Wednesday’s blowout win was out of the norm for the Senators. Eleven of their first 14 playoff games this spring were decided by a goal.