There was nothing dull and dreary about the Ottawa Senators' victory on Wednesday night.
When you're this deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs and your team wins 5-1 to take a 2-1 series lead in the East final, how can any victory be humdrum?
The Senators, however, have been accused of playing boring hockey this season because of head coach Guy Boucher's passive 1-3-1 forechecking system.
Boucher's teams have always had this reputation. Anyone remember Philadelphia's stall tactics in a game against Boucher's Tampa Bay Lightning in November 2011, when Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger asked the question, "Would you pay money to watch that?"
The Senators have left the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and now the Pittsburgh Penguins frustrated in the playoffs.
Their impressive blowout win at home against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night has upstart Ottawa within two wins of advancing to its first Stanley Cup final in a decade.
All of a sudden, the team losing out on Bruce Boudreau and settling for Boucher as coach 11 months ago doesn't look so bad. All of a sudden, the Derick Brassard-for-Mika Zibanejad swap of centres with the Rangers looks like a brilliant move by rookie Senators general manager Pierre Dorion Jr.
All of a sudden, the team with the worst regular-season goal differential among the 16 playoff qualifiers at minus-2, and the team that had difficulty this season filling its building (the Senators were 21st in league attendance with an average crowd of 16,744) doesn't have to worry about any of those things.
"It feels pretty good," said Brassard, when asked about the Senators' opening with four consecutive goals in the first period to chase Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. "I think just the energy in the building gave us a lot of momentum there in the first period."
The Senators received a total team effort in their fourth win in a row at the Canadian Tire Centre to improve to 5-2 at home in this playoff run. They didn't have to rely on the skill of captain Erik Karlsson on this night.
Undersized centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who had a new linemate in Zach Smith, as well as the defence pairing of Karlsson and Marc Methot, did an excellent job on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who was a minus-three on the evening.
Brassard and the defence tandem of Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci shut down Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, leaving the two Penguins stars frustrated, as evident when Malkin was booted for his potty mouth with officials in the third period and Kessel's going after Phaneuf.
The Penguins weren't ready and at times looked like pee wee players bumping into each other. But the Senators weren't as passive as they usually play. They went after a banged-up Penguins defence and made life difficult for Pittsburgh in its own end.
"Every line, every pair, we just competed really hard, and we put pucks behind them," Brassard said. "We capitalized on some chances, and it's just good to see that every line chipped in. Even my friend here on the right [Methot] chipped in on a goal."
That's right, the same Methot whose last goal before Wednesday night was scored on March 19, 2016. The same Methot who almost had the tip of his left pinky severed as the result of a slash from Crosby in late March.
Methot enjoyed a strong game and no doubt felt pretty good in helping shut down the opponent who injured him a couple of months ago.
Stories like Methot's make the Senators an easy team to cheer for. Besides Methot, this team is full of human-interest stories.
There's Bobby Ryan, who lost his mother to cancer last summer. There's Clarke MacArthur, sidelined for almost two full seasons because of concussion problems before returning just in time for the playoffs. There's goalie Craig Anderson and his wife's public battle with a rare form of throat cancer this season.
Yep, this team is far from boring.