A pair of second-period goals just 3:49 apart lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday night against the Ottawa Senators. Pittsburgh’s victory ties the series at two games apiece.
Already leading thanks to a goal in the first period from Olli Maatta, Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin gave the visiting Penguins a three-goal lead in the second. Crosby’s goal came on the power play 7:41 into the middle period. Parked at the side of the crease, Crosby collected a pass from Jake Guentzel and was able to get the puck past Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson. Dumoulin scored at 11:30, the result of a deflected shot off the skate of Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf.
A pair of Senators goals made it a one-goal game. Clarke MacArthur beat Penguins netminder Matt Murray with 1:38 left in the second period. Tom Pyatt registered the game’s final goal with 5:01 left in regulation by redirecting a shot from Erik Karlsson into the back of the net.
With the win, the Penguins move to 12-2 all-time in the playoffs after losing a game with Mike Sullivan as the team’s head coach.
Matt Murray replaced Marc-Andre Fleury as the Penguins’ starting goalie Friday night. Murray—Pittsburgh’s regular-season leader in starts (49), wins (32), goals-against average (2.41) and save percentage (.932)—missed the start of the postseason due to injury. He recently got some ice time in relief duty on May 17, saving 19 of 20 shots. He continued his stellar play Friday. He stopped 24 of 26 chances in Game 4, including five on the penalty kill and one short-handed opportunity in his first start since April 6.
Fleury has had a strong showing during the 2017 postseason. His numbers aren’t the flashiest (2.56 GAA and a .924 save percentage), but the Penguins owe a lot of their playoff success this year to him.
It’ll be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the work during the remainder of the postseason. It’ll be even more interesting to see if Pittsburgh makes the right call in the process.
Eleven power plays. Zero goals. That’s the line for the Senators this series. Ottawa had four power plays Friday night and only generated five shots on goal.
The Penguins haven’t been much better this series, but they’ve at least found the back of the net. Pittsburgh’s 2 for 12 on the power play during the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. One of those goals came Friday courtesy of Crosby.
With the Eastern Conference Final now a best-of-three series, expect both teams’ special teams play to come under the microscope that much more.
Guentzel’s rookie postseason campaign continues to impress. He recorded two assists in Game 4, giving him seven during the 2017 playoffs to go with nine goals. His 16 total postseason points are a Pittsburgh franchise record for a rookie. The total, coming in 16 games, is also now essentially half of what he tallied during his 40 regular-season games this season (16-17-33) and ties him with teammate Phil Kessel for fourth in playoff scoring.
It’s cliché to say that depth scoring is key for a successful Stanley Cup run, but it’s also very, very true. As the postseason wears on, a team’s stars need more help lighting the lamp and Guentzel’s been a pleasant surprise to say the least.