Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Next Up: Either Bruins or Rangers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Next Up: Either Bruins or Rangers

Article excerpt

Swell place, Ottawa.

A historic and, in places, picturesque city.

Lots of nice people and plenty of powerful ones, too.

Great place to spend a little time in the spring.

But the last place the Penguins wanted to go this weekend.

Their play during a 6-2 victory against Ottawa in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series at Consol Energy Center Friday night -- which secured a spot in the Eastern Conference final and removed any need to return to Ontario for a Game 6 -- made that pretty obvious.

"We came out with the desperation to win," said winger James Neal, whose personal contribution came in the form of three goals and an assist.

The Penguins had a pronounced edge in play for most of the game, especially when the outcome was still in doubt, to claim a spot in the East final for the first time since 2009, when they earned the franchise's third Stanley Cup.

They also won a series on home ice for the first time since ending Philadelphia's season at Mellon Arena in the 2008 conference final.

The outcome of the series had been widely predicted, and Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson suggested it was entirely appropriate, as well.

"They were better than us in each and every game," he said.

The Penguins will face the winner of the Boston-New York Rangers series for the conference title. The Bruins held a 3-1 lead going into Game 5 Saturday afternoon in Boston.

"At this point, whoever you play, it's going to be a pretty tough series," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "Anyone who gets this far, it's for good reason."

Whichever team they meet in the next round likely will devote a lot of time to scheming ways to contain Neal. After a slow start in this postseason, he got three goals and an assist in Game 5 after putting up two goals and an assist in Game 4.

"The way he shoots the puck and the way he can hold onto it, he can definitely score in bunches," Crosby said. "He's proven that. He's done it before. That's pretty difficult to do in the playoffs."

The Penguins' next opponent might want to do some detailed video work on goalie Tomas Vokoun, too. He stopped 29 of 31 shots Friday and is 6-1 since replacing Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 5 of the opening round against the New York Islanders. …

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