Playoff Experts: Penguins beat Senators 7-4

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 20: Brian Elliott #30 of the Ottawa Senators lies in his crease after the fourth goal by the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals at Scotiabank Place on April 20, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada. The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Ottawa Senators 6-3 after two periods. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

This was a weird game.

The first period was a relatively quiet one. The Pittsburgh Penguins outshot the Ottawa Senators. Brian Elliott was solid. Evgeni Malkin scored another goal, his ninth in eight games against the Senators this season. There were a few questionable calls, and a few questionable non-calls. But overall, it was a quiet period. Pittsburgh led 1-0.

Then the second period came, and all hell broke loose. Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the period at 3:47, making it 2-0 Pittsburgh. Ten minutes later the score was 5-3. Chris Kunitz added another, and the second period ended with eight goals total, six at even-strength, one on the power play, and another shorthanded. The end of Brian Elliott came after the Penguins made it 4-0, and in came much-maligned goaltender Pascal Leclaire. There were twice as many goals as there were penalties. It was as atypical a period as you could have.

In the third period, Jason Spezza finally scored and made it 6-4, but Jordan Staal responded five minutes later to make it 7-4 and put the game completely out of reach. That would be the final score. The last two minutes got extremely chippy as 40 penalty minutes were handed out, including three 10-minute misconducts, one each to Chris Neil, Jarkko Ruutu, and Matt Carkner.

Nick Foligno spent four minutes in the penalty box tonight despite never being assessed a penalty after the Senators were twice called for a bench minor for too many men on the ice. A single too many men penalty is one too many, but two is completely unacceptable. Over the course of the regular season, the Senators accumulated 13 bench minors, tied for the most of any team. They already have three in the postseason.

The Penguins now lead the series 3-1. Game five is Thursday night in Pittsburgh at 7:00pm ET.

Sens Heroes: Andy Sutton, Matt Cullen

In a 7-4 game, Sutton was +1, the only plus player for the Senators. He had seven hits, two takeaways, two blocked shots, and was in everyone's face in yet another physical game. Cullen had a goal and two assists and was flying all nigh, also going 7-0 in the faceoff circle. This was easily his best game as a Senator. Cullen now has six points in the series after putting up only eight in the 21 regular season games he played in red and white.

Sens Zero: Anton Volchenkov

He may have blocked four shots, but Volchenkov had an otherwise terrible night. Not only were he and Chris Phillips both -3, but Volchenkov didn't throw a single hit while Phillips had five.. Jonathan Cheechoo and Erik Karlsson were the only other Senators to not register a hit, but neither are expected to bring the physical dimension that Volchenkov is. He's going to need to be significantly better if the Senators stand a chance at coming back in this series.

Sens Killer: Goaltending

This sums up the Senators' goaltending tonight:


MIN W L GA S SV
GAA
SV%
Brian Elliott 26:12 0 0 4 19 15 9.16 .789
Pascal Leclaire 33:41 0 1
3 23 20 5.34 .870

It's worth noting that Brian Elliott actually had a pretty good first period. He stopped 13 of 14 shots and looked very solid. The second period is when it all fell apart. Elliott allowed 3 goals on 5 shots and that was the end of him. Pascal Leclaire was better, but nowhere near good enough. Jason Spezza's goal to make the game 6-4 meant that Leclaire was the one who allowed the game-winning goal, as the cruel hand of fate credited Leclaire with the loss in a game that he didn't deserve the bulk of the blame for.

Sens Killer: Sidney Crosby

With all due respect to Craig Anderson, Sidney Crosby is currently the Conn Smythe frontrunner. Why? This:


GP G A P +/- PIM P/G PPG SHG GWG SOG PCT
2009 - Sidney Crosby 4 4 7 11 7 2 2.75 1 0 1 13 30.8

Crosby had two goals, two assists, was +3, and was all-around the single best player in the game. He's nearly a 3-point-a-game player right now. Crosby has 11 points. Ottawa as a team has 12 goals.

Sens Killer: The second period

The Penguins scored 5 goals in the second period. Ottawa scored 3. This is all you need to hear.

Stat line:

S
MS
BS
TS
HT
GV
TK
FW
FL
F%
Pittsburgh
42 8 12 64 37 5 9 35 38 48%
Ottawa
30 15 14 57 48 13 15 38 35 52%

(Legend: S (shots on goal), MS (missed shots), BS (blocked shots), TS (total shots fired), HT (hits), GV (giveaways), TK (takeaways), FW (faceoffs won), FL (faceoffs lost), F% (faceoff win percentage))

Shot chart:

2010-apr-20-shotmap_medium

Highlights:

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