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Game 4 Recap: Pens strike back, even series

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Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby record 2 points a piece and Matt Murray holds the fort down as the Pittsburgh Penguins win Game 4 3-2 in Ottawa to even the series at 2 games a piece.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Moving things around for Game Four. Here are your Penguins lines. Archibald with his playoff debut. Let's Go Pens! pic.twitter.com/gzz11tP6lz

The Penguins make two changes from last game, they scratch defenseman Mark Streit to go back to the regular 12F/6D alignment. Rookie Josh Archibald gets to make his NHL playoff debut. Oh and they decide to give Matt Murray his first start of the playoffs, almost forgot that one.

The lines are all altered too, at least for warmups.

1st period

The Pens start better, get some shots (though not very many high danger ones) but hey, gotta start somewhere and that's better than last game. The Senators generate a few good chances of their own but Murray holds strong.

With less than a minute left in the period, the Pens are sprung on a 3-v-2 oddman rush, first such of the game. They make it count too. Sidney Crosby passes over to Olli Maatta Maatta skates in on Craig Anderson who has to stay deep in his crease, respecting the possible centering pass. Maatta flips the puck on the net and past Anderson. 1-0 Pens!

As time continues to tick down the Sens double up with a pair of high, hard hits on Chad Ruhwedel, who is felled and bloodied after Bobby Ryan comes down the tracks and levels him with a huge hit. Ian Cole quite naturally objects and roughs Ryan up a little. He earns a penalty, which is understandable. No Senator does. Hmm. Ruhwedel is knocked out of the game and the Pens must press on with 5 defensemen.

Shots are 14-9 Pens after 1. A bit misleading since the majority of them were non-threatening but they at least were able to establish a lot of offensive zone time and create some chaos in the o-zone. That's a lot more than you can say about Game 4.

2nd period

The Pens take a couple more penalties, but the PK holds strong.

Ottawa again decides to rough up the Penguins after a whistle for no reason and the refs finally put one of them in the penalty box for it (novel concept). On the ensuing Pittsburgh power play Jake Guentzel makes a great play and passes over to Crosby who keeps with a puck and it gets past the skate of Anderson in really what isn't that great of a goal against for such a hot goalie not to make it to the post by the second chance.

Of course, that's easy to say when Sid is bearing down on you, but how does his skate leave the post? Critical error that seemed avoidable.

Pittsburgh keeps the push up. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin seemingly is trying to hit Evgeni Malkin with a pass but the puck bounces off Dion Phaneuf and redirects straight into the net. They don't ask how, they ask how many. And right now it's 3-0.

Malkin thanks Phaneuf for the gift. Which, considering Phaneuf's back was to the puck to try and take a hack at Geno's hands, that's gotta be a sweet sense of retribution.

Pittsburgh doesn't escape the period unscathed. Ryan makes a great pass down that Clarke MacArthur gets a stick on right in front of the net past Murray to make it 3-1.

Shots 28-16 Pittsburgh after 2. Gotta love that and without looking that almost certainly has to be the most lopsided SOG (in favor of Pens) all playoff long.

3rd period

Back and forth we go, Kessel gets a breakaway but Anderson stands tall.

The Sens get within 1 with 5 minutes to go. Erik Karlsson unleashes a shot that tips off someone in front, then clicks off the skate of Tom Pyatt and in past Murray. Hold on to your butts it's 3-2.

Ottawa keeps pressing and gets another power play with a 2nd too many men on the ice. Sens push, including a wide-open slapper by Karlsson and Murray stones him.

Very reminiscent of a certain Penguins goalie stoning an all-world Swedish defenseman on the doorstep in the dying seconds of the game....Hmm, where have we seen THAT before?

Game, set, match, even at 2 games, so now we're down to a best of 3.

Some Thoughts

  • The Sens power play is 0 for its last 24 and looks like it too. They're hardly getting zone time, let alone good shots let alone good chances. Power plays don't stay cold forever but this one looks very poor indeed.
  • Nice to see the Pens show the gas tank isn't quite on E just yet. Nice to see a response from them.
  • In the great goalie debate of 2016-17 (part 107,303), Mike Sullivan made the wise choice. Murray looked strong and in control. Ottawa was outshot but they had several good chances at 5v5, Murray turned them away, aside from 2 unstoppable. Fleury's done the same in games in the past, but Murray gave them what they needed tonight. This mission, accomplished. Now onto the next one.
  • Ruhwedel was the 3rd and last healthy RHD on the roster, aside from black ace Frank Corrado who's way down on the depth chart. The team found a way without him, but something to consider if his absence stretches into next game. Presumably Mark Streit or Derrick Pouliot would be the next man up.
  • Down that d-man most the game, the team leaned on Maatta (25 minutes) and Trevor Daley (23 minutes overall) as the top ES minutes-eaters on the team.
  • Nice way to fight through things for the Pens, down a couple guys, they found a way. Wasn't always pretty but it counts.
  • Great to see Dumoulin and Nick Bonino sell out late to block shots and preserve the win.
  • Not sure what to think about Sullivan casually on camera saying "what happened?" after each of the 2 too many men calls against the Pens. Pittsburgh needs to clean up changes and be much better next time out. Seems like a recurring problem, so Sully needs to figure out what is happening and correct it. Surely that's not breaking any news for him.
  • Pens are 12-2 under Sullivan this year and last the next game after a lose. That's how you make deep runs, just find a way to bounce back.

Down now to a best of 3, winner going on to the Stanley Cup Final. Given how this series has unfolded, that's not a bad position to be in. A pivotal Game 5 is coming up with a fairly quick turnaround on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.