The Penguins have a significant skill level and depth advantage to the Ottawa Senators and they put their foot on the pedal in Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, defeating the Senators 7-3 on Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh could not have gotten off to a worst start, giving up a Milan Michalek (2) breakaway shorthanded goal, 2:29 into the game, as they looked rattled on the power play, going 0-2 on the man advantage with two power play opportunities 7:57 into the game, and for the first 14 minutes of the game, Craig Anderson looked unbeatable.
The Penguins, though, kept coming and eventually overwhelmed the Senators to move one game from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2009.
Game 4 was James Neal’s coming out party, getting Pittsburgh on the board at 14:56 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1, burying a shot in the slot after a won faceoff from Jarome Iginla in the right faceoff circle.
The Senators would respond a 1:20 later as the Penguins were awful in clearing the front of the net in the first period as Tomas Vokoun gave up a poor rebound and Kyle Turris (5) scored in front to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.
It would be the last time the Senators would hold a lead in the game.
Chris Kunitz (4) scored 1:18 into the second period with a breakaway goal, and Jarome Iginla (3) scored 40 seconds later as the Penguins were off to the races.
Holding a 3-2 lead to open the third period, Pittsburgh would start pouring it on, getting third period goals from James Neal (3, power play), Pascal Dupuis (7, shorthanded), Sidney Crosby (7), and Jarome Iginla (4) as the Penguins netted six unanswered goals to take a 7-2 lead. Daniel Alfredsson (3) added a power play with 5:16 left to make it 7-3.
Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves to improve to 5-1 in the post-season.
What the Penguins dominant win did is seem to take the life out of the Senators. Head coach Paul MacLean wouldn’t even take questions from the media, while captain Daniel Alfredsson knows the reality of the situation that the Senators really needed to win Game 4 to have much of a shot in winning this series.
“Probably not,” Alfredsson conceded when asked if the Senators could come back in this series, according to NHL.com. “[Pittsburgh’s] depth and our play right now … it doesn’t look too good.
“When you look at what we did, it wasn’t good enough. Does that mean [Pittsburgh] was good? Did we make them good? Who really cares? From our point of view, we didn’t manage the puck [well], we didn’t execute our passes, and subsequently, we got punished in the neutral zone. We turned way too many pucks over and gave them some freebies. It would have been nice to have the lead for a little bit longer, but now we’re back on our heels again. We didn’t shut them down when it matters.”
PENGUINS BIG GUNS LEAD THE WAY
Jarome Iginla and James Neal were two storylines for the Penguins as they got back on track in the win and five Penguins notched multi-point games in the win:
Kris Letang – 4 Assists
James Neal – 2 Goals, 1 Assist
James Iginla – 2 Goals
Sidney Crosby – 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Pascal Dupuis – 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Notes: Sidney Crosby scored his 40th career goal, becoming the fastest active player to reach 40 career playoff goals.