Dion Phaneuf

Penguins hold off late Sens’ surge to win Game 4

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A pair of unlikely sources provided scoring for the Penguins on Friday, as they evened the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at two games apiece.

Earlier in the day, coach Mike Sullivan made his decision to start Matt Murray in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. It was a move certainly open to debate but what was more pressing for the Penguins was a need to regain their ability to score goals. They had fallen behind in the series and had only three goals through its first three games.

Credit to the Senators for their tight checking and defensive trap, which helped neutralize Pittsburgh’s speed and offensive capabilities. Hoping to avoid moving within one loss of elimination, the Penguins were able to solve the Senators and Craig Anderson before just barely holding on for a 3-2 victory in Ottawa.

Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s second goal and had an assist. He also led his team in shots on goal, but is obviously not the unlikely source for scoring. That title on Friday belonged to both Olli Maatta and Brian Dumoulin, who each scored their first goals, respectively, of these playoffs.

Maatta went short side on Anderson, who was cheating to the middle of the crease, and Dumoulin’s shot from the point deflected in off the skate of Ottawa defender Dion Phaneuf. Suddenly, the Penguins had matched their total offensive output from the three previous games.

For the Penguins, it’s a step in the right direction.

“I saw a lot of urgency on the part of the opponent, which was to be expected. You know, Stanley Cup champions, and they bounce back in every series. So that was to be expected,” said Senators coach Guy Boucher.

“I found that we fumbled a lot of pucks, and we didn’t look sharp at all in the first two periods.”

The Senators made a game of it, reducing Pittsburgh’s lead to just one goal late in the third period. But they couldn’t complete the comeback, failing to convert on a late power play despite a flurry of chances off the stick of Erik Karlsson after the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice with 34.3 seconds remaining.

The Penguins won this game while playing the majority of it with five defensemen.

Yes, more injury concern for the blue line.

Chad Ruhwedel left the game and didn’t return after he was hit into the boards by Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan in the final seconds of the first period.

The Penguins began this game already without defensemen Kris Letang (who hasn’t played in these playoffs) and Justin Schultz.

Murray made 24 saves for the win.

Game 5 goes Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Penguins – Senators Game 3 lineups: Daley, Streit give Pittsburgh 7 D

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One can debate how voluntary the decision really is, but it turns out the Pittsburgh Penguins are dressing seven defensemen in Game 3, as expected.

Mark Streit and Trevor Daley are drawing into the mix for the Penguins, who lost Justin Schultz to an awkward fall into the boards against the Ottawa Senators in Game 2.

Pittsburgh essentially rolls with the same forwards they deployed for most of that 1-0 win, as Dion Phaneuf‘s big hit on Bryan Rust limited them to 11 forwards for almost the entire contest.

Mike Sullivan said all the right things about Streit, yet the way he’s used him, it might actually be more important that Daley can play.

Meanwhile, Viktor Stalberg replaces Tommy Wingels in Ottawa’s lineup. Stalberg had missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.

2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Wednesday, May 17

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After failing to score a goal in Game 2, the Senators are headed back home to Ottawa for Game 3 of their series against the Penguins.

Here’s what you need to know:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (series tied 1-1)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Pittsburgh’s 1-0 win in Game 2

Related:

Time for Streit? Pens head coach ponders using “savy player”

Penguins-Senators is getting nasty, and Dion Phaneuf is a big part of it

Penguins break through against Senators, tie series with Game 2 win

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You can understand if the Pittsburgh Penguins were frustrated during much of Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators, and Phil Kessel certainly showed it.

But, to their credit, they just kept hammering away as the Senators seemed content to “turtle” in their own zone, failing to register a shot on goal through about a period’s worth of game time. Kessel finally beat a game Craig Anderson on an extra-effort attempt, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win as the Penguins tied the series 1-1.

The Senators might have been accused of a “rope-a-dope” technique when it came to trying to counterattack, but they weren’t just leaning on the ropes when it came to the actual physical stuff. Dion Phaneuf delivered some huge hits, including one that possibly injured Bryan Rust, while Justin Schultz may also be hurt thanks to an innocuous Mike Hoffman check.

However you dole out the credits for hits, it was a nasty one at times, including when Evgeni Malkin, Kyle Turris and others were involved in a scuffle in the dying moments.

Marc-Andre Fleury grabbed his 10th career playoff shutout, making 23 saves in uneven waves from the Senators. It will be interesting to see if Guy Boucher deploys a similar strategy against Pittsburgh as the Eastern Conference Final goes along or if he’ll try to take advantage of the growing number of injuries for the Pens’ defense corps.

The narratives could have revolved around the Senators frustrating the Penguins and getting away with a … questionable style of play. They certainly did frustrate the Pens and almost escaped with a 2-0 series lead.

Pittsburgh got that key win, however, so the series will shift tied 1-1 as Games 3 and 4 will take place in Ottawa.

Game 3 takes place on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)

Penguins – Senators is getting nasty, and Phaneuf’s been a big part of it

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Through two periods of Game 2, Dion Phaneuf has been credited with four hits against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whatever the number might be, the Ottawa Senators defenseman is making his presence felt.

Of course, there’s also plenty of debate regarding whether his hits have been clean or not. You’ll see plenty of discussion about Phaneuf “leaving his feet” or “headhunting,” depending upon whom you ask.

You can see his biggest hit of the night (so far?) on Bryan Rust above, which seemed to hurt Rust. There have been complaints about other checks, including one on Jake Guentzel.

But there’s no real doubt that he’s making his presence felt to the extent that it feels like a flashback to his high-impact early days with the Calgary Flames … and the Penguins would be wise to keep their heads up.

They’ve certainly revealed their nasty side at times, with Phil Kessel seen livid on the Penguins bench and plenty of Pittsburgh players throwing hits. In fact, the Penguins are credited with more checks (34-23) so far. Scott Wilson‘s really been involved, throwing seven.

The Penguins aren’t being wallflowers here, but the Senators will gladly trade hits and barbs with Pittsburgh instead of trading scoring chances.

The game enters the third period 0-0, so a lot of drama could still be on the way.

You can watch Game 2 on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)