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

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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.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.