The Ottawa Senators got off to a strong start tonight due in no small part to Milan Michalek’s impressive shorthanded goal and goaltender Craig Anderson’s early efforts. However the Penguins claimed the lead in the second and then the floodgates opened in the third period. What started as a hard fought contest ended as a 7-3 blowout.
Pittsburgh is now one win away from taking this series going into Game 5 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Here are some notes to chew on:
- Penguins forward James Neal had been struggling in the 2013 playoffs, but he came up big tonight with two goals and an assist.
- Ottawa and Pittsburgh are the only teams to have netted at least two shorthanded goals in the postseason.
- This actually marks the first game of this series that the Senators held a lead before the end of the contest.
- Going into this game, Ottawa outscored its opponents 16-1 after 40 minutes while Pittsburgh had allowed 10 goals and scored just six beyond the second period of playoff contests. So the Penguins’ 3-2 lead going into the third period was clearly not safe, but they managed to overcome that trend tonight.
- Daniel Alfredsson got his 100th career playoff point, but it came on an ultimately moot third-period goal.
- Although Anderson was pulled from this game, he was great in the first period. How much of this loss was his fault?
- Just as a fun side note: While the Penguins were overwhelming the Senators, their AHL-affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, earned a 5-0 victory over the Providence Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fought back after falling behind in that series 3-0.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.