OTTAWA, CANADA - MAY 22: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal against Craig Anderson #41 and Erik Condra #22 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Place on May 22, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Penguins aim to finish off Senators


The New York Rangers lived to fight another day, but all of the second-round series are now just one game away from potentially ending.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at tonight’s offering:

Pittsburgh Penguins host Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Pittsburgh leads series 3-1

After taking Game 3 in dramatic fashion, Ottawa got off to an early lead on Wednesday thanks to Milan Michalek’s shorthanded goal. The Senators ended up entering the first intermission with a 2-1 lead, but it was all downhill from there. By the end of the game, Ottawa had been handed a crushing 7-3 defeat.

After the game Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was asked if it was “feasible to beat them three times in a row.”

“Probably not,” Alfredsson admitted, citing the Penguins’ depth as one of the reasons “it doesn’t look to good.”

Although he later claimed to be “probably” taken out of context, that moment might have caught just how demoralized the Senators were immediately following the game.

Meanwhile his coach, Paul MacLean, was unwilling to even answer questions after the defeat. Instead he pointed to the game sheet saying “everything’s right here.”

“We’re going to Pittsburgh, and we’re coming to play,” MacLean promised before walking away.

We’ll find out soon if the pesky Senators have at least one more surprise left. If not, tonight could mark the end of Alfredsson’s stellar career.

One thing is for sure: Craig Anderson will play between the pipes for the Senators. He was pulled from Game 4 after allowing six goals in 38 shots, but MacLean made it clear that Anderson would be back tonight.

“Andy played fine,” MacLean told the Ottawa Sun. “The play of our goaltender allows us to play with a certain amount of freedom, but at the same time we have to play for him, too.”

At times, Anderson has managed to best the Penguins stellar offense, but Pittsburgh has still scored 16 goals in the second round. He’ll need help if Ottawa’s postseason run is to survive the night.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
1 Comment

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.