Penguins turn Game 4 into a blowout victory over the Senators
OTTAWA — Daniel Alfredsson knows what was lost for his Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
For that reason, he picked up the puck at the end of a 7-3 loss to the Penguins at Scotiabank Place.
“For my kids,” Alfredsson said. “To get back into this series seriously, we had to win tonight.”
The Senators seemed broken after an eviscerating third-period by the Penguins, who fired off four goals — including two on the power play — to claim a commanding 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs series.
A win at Consol Energy Center on Friday will return the Penguins to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since they won the Cup in 2009.
Captain Sidney Crosby emphatically ended any suspense in Game 4. An inside-out-move on heart-and-soul Senators defenseman Chris Phillips preceded a goal that chased Craig Anderson, who had made 49 saves for Ottawa in its double-overtime win in Game 3 on Sunday.
That goal snapped Crosby's run of 23 playoff games without a third-period score.
“I've missed some time during that,” Crosby said, half-smiling while referring to the 2011 playoffs he missed because of a concussion.
He is playing with a surgically repaired jaw, but he is tied for the team lead with seven goals this postseason. His 14 points equal the total of fellow former MVP center Evgeni Malkin.
Crosby and Malkin are enough to rattle any opponent, but the Penguins possess enviable depth. It was on display in Game 4.
Wingers James Neal and Jarome Iginla each scored twice — Neal snapping a five-game drought, and Iginla marking for only the second of seven games.
Iginla said “all the guys were confident” after the Game 3 loss, which coach Dan Bylsma said was the Penguins' “best road game of the playoffs.”
The Penguins' lost a one-goal lead in the last minute, surrendering a shorthanded goal to Alfredsson after the Senators pulled Anderson.
“I don't think anybody was (furious), just disappointed we let a game get away that we shouldn't have,” Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. “It was probably good for us in a way.”
The Penguins stormed the offensive zone in the opening period of Game 4. Still, they trailed, 2-1, before goals by left winger Chris Kunitz and Iginla staked them a lead within two minutes of the second.
Bylsma said the final 10 minutes of the second were “not very good,” but the Penguins went on a march once the final 20 minutes started.
Neal and Iginla each scored their second goals of the game on power plays. Those scores were sandwiched by goals from Pascal Dupuis and the Crosby highlight-reel marker.
Anderson faced 38 shots before leaving, having surrendered six goals. He may not be broken, but the only two games from which he was pulled this season have come during this series.
“From their side, it's tough to expect Anderson to make 50 saves every night,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “It looked like we played with a lot more speed. They had trouble keeping up with us. If you play that way, the best team is going to win eventually.”
That is especially true if the best team — and the Penguins were that during the regular season in the Eastern Conference — can consider its power play potent even when allowing shorthanded goals.
The Penguins are 5 for 15 (33.3 percent) in wins in this series.
Only two things seemed to go against them — another shorthanded goal, from Senators winger Milan Michalek — and Kunitz not finishing the contest as a precaution.
Alfredsson, an impending free agent, offered caution with his assessment of where the series is headed.
“It's really putting us in a tough spot,” Alfredsson said. “With their depth and power play, it doesn't look too good.”