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 the 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, but couldn't stop Ottawa from falling into a deep hole against the Eastern Conference's top seed. The Senators 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.
And that - and not his spectacular flurry that sent the Senators reeling - is all that mattered to Crosby.
"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."
It better if Ottawa wants to make this a series.
Crosby beat Craig Anderson three times in three very different ways in the game's first 22 minutes, each score showcasing a facet of his remarkable talent.
A dazzling rush from the Pittsburgh blue line between two Senators - including Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson - ended with Crosby slipping the puck under Anderson's pad just 3:16 into the game.
After Turris banked in a shot off Vokoun to even things, Crosby put the Penguins back in front later in the first period when he zipped down the left side and eyed linemate Pascal Dupuis as they raced in on Anderson. Only Crosby didn't pass. At the last second and without even peeking at Anderson, Crosby flipped a wrist shot near the goal line that smacked off the goalie's pad and into the net.
"I was kind of running out of space to make a pass," Crosby said. "I was hoping that it was able to find a way somehow"
There was no fancy stickwork or fortunate bounce required for Crosby to record his first postseason hat trick since 2009. Standing atop the left circle, he boomed a slap shot over Anderson's glove to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead and send Anderson to the bench in favor of backup Robin Lehner.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Anze Kopitar won't allow a puck to the face to keep him out of the Los Angeles Kings' title defense.
Kopitar returned to practice at the Kings' training complex on Friday, and he's ready to play in Game 3 tonight at the Shark Tank after surviving a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 against San Jose.
Kopitar missed only a few minutes of the Kings' 4-3 win Thursday after a shot by teammate Dustin Brown hit him in the left side of his face above his upper lip.