Pittsburgh 4 – Ottawa 2
Alexei Ponikarovsky scored his 1st playoff goal and Sidney Crosby added a goal and an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Sunday night to take a 2-1 series lead.
Marc Andre Fleury made 20 saves as the Penguins played another strong defensive game.
Pittsburgh seized control of the game in the second period when Evgeni Malkin netted his 3rd playoff goal at the 5:57 mark and Sidney Crosby scored with 45 seconds remaining in the period to give Pittsburgh a commanding 3-1 lead.
Bill Guerin put the game out of reach early in the third, beating goaltender Brian Elliott with a breakaway goal at the 4:27 mark, giving Pittsburgh a 4-1 lead.
Pittsburgh limited Ottawa’s chances during 5-on-5 play as Ottawa has struggled in consecutive games at creating scoring chances.
Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen scored power-play goals for Ottawa in the loss.
Goaltender Brian Elliott struggled in the loss, making 20 saves.
Pittsburgh looked to jump on the Senators in the first couple shifts of the game and quieted the Scotiabank Place crowd early when Alexei Ponikarovsky scored a 1:17 into the period.
Ponikarovsky, the Penguins marquee acquisition at the NHL trade deadline, had just two goals in 18 games prior to game 3 and played his complete game of the series Sunday night.
Dan Bylsma called Ponikarovsky’s 1st period goal “huge” in his post-game comments.
Pittsburgh got another strong game from role players such as Max Talbot who took a few situational shifts with Evgeni Malkin on the second line and assisted on Malkin’s second period goal.
On Malkin’s goal, Talbot caused an offensive zone turnover, poking the puck away from Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and driving to the net as Malkin put home the rebound.
Crosby’s two point night gives him a league high 7 points in the playoffs. Crosby and Malkin have combined for 11 points in three games.
Defenseman Jay McKee made his playoff debut, replacing Jordan Leopold in the lineup. McKee had 13:28 of ice time and played a solid game.
Game 4 is Tuesday night
*Forwards Ruslan Fedotenko, Eric Godard, and defenseman Ben Lovejoy were healthy scratches for Pittsburgh.
Defenseman Jordan Leopold did not travel with the team to Ottawa and will not play in game 4 due to a concussion.
*Goaltender Brent Johnson rejoined the team in Ottawa but did not serve as the teams backup.
*Sergei Gonchar led the Penguins with 25:00 of ice time.