Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semi-Final: Game 4 – Penguins vs. Senators.

After having their series lead cut in half by a stunning 2 to 1 overtime victory by the Senators Sunday evening, the Penguins were looking to rebound with a decisive victory and take a third game in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-Final. Ottawa, riding the momentum of both the victory and home ice advantage, was looking to tie the series at a two apiece.

Despite being down a man early on as a result of an interference call against Sergei Gonchar with just over a minute off the clock in the first twenty, Ottawa would take a lead for the first time all series with a short-handed tally courtesy of Milan Michalek. On the penalty kill, Daniel Alfredsson sent a pass to a speeding Michalek who beat the Penguins defence to earn a breakaway on Tomas Vokoun, beating him top shelf. The Penguins, seemingly jolted awake by the short-handed goal, began to push and push hard, dominating play and keeping a majority of the faceoffs within the Senators zone. Craig Anderson would weather much of the Penguins storm, consistently coming up and beating the Penguins shooters but, after being barraged, let one in with 14:56 off the clock. The Penguins goal came from James Neal. Picking up the puck from Jarome Iginla who’d won the faceoff, Neal’s shot from the side beat Anderson and found its way into the netting. The Senators resumed the lead quickly thereafter, this time Kyle Turris earning the tally. The goal was a rebound that Vokoun, knocked to the ground, just couldn’t get a glove on. After twenty, the Senators remained in the lead despite being outshot 16 to 11.

The Penguins came out firing in the second, scoring two goals in less than two minutes to start the period – literally. With 1:08 off the clock, Chris Kunitz tied the game beating Craig Anderson five-hole on a breakaway.  Sneaking behind the Ottawa defense alongside Evgeni Malkin, Kunitz picked up a pass from Pascal Dupuis before taking off. Forty seconds later, Jarome Iginla picked up a Kris Letang rebound, slamming it behind Anderson, thus giving the Penguins the lead. The Penguins continued to dominate play although Ottawa had their fair share of chances. The Senators earned their first power play with 1:27 left in the period and although Jason Spezza came very close – the only thing standing in his way being the goal post – the second buzzer would sound and the Penguins would still hold the lead.

With 1:07 off the clock in the third, Gonchar was sent to the box again, this time for a high-stick. This time, however, the Penguins power play pulled itself together and it was James Neal with his second of the night increasing Pittsburgh’s lead by two.

A shot by Sidney Crosby bounced off the end boards and out to Neal who had an empty net to shoot into. With fourteen minutes left in regulation, the Senators headed to their second power play of the night when Matt Niskanen was whistled for a trip. What should have been an advantage to Ottawa, however, turned into a short-handed goal from Pascal Dupuis.

Thirty seconds later, just as the penalty to Niskanen expired, Sidney Crosby earned Pittsburgh’s sixth of the night with a backhander from the slot.

Photo: @AGretz

Crosby’s goal signaled the end of Craig Anderson’s night as Robin Lehner was sent in to relieve him of his duties. Chris Neil took a slashing penalty with 9:01 off the clock, giving the Penguins the man-advantage for the fourth time this evening.

The power play,  still holding it together, allowed Pittsburgh to take a 7 to 2 lead with Iginla’s second of the game.

Ottawa earned one more before the final buzzer but five minutes just was not enough to erase the five goal deficit. Thus, Pittsburgh took Game 4 by a score of 7 to 3.

Brooks Orpik led all skaters with 23:42 of ice time while Paul Martin followed with 23:33. James Neal registered 9 shots on goal while Sidney Crosby had 6. The Penguins fired 42 shots toward Ottawa’s goal tending duo while Tomas Vokoun faced 33.

Game 5 returns to Pittsburgh and goes Friday evening at 7:30.