The Penguins scored a pile of goals and head up for Game 5 with a chance to move on to the East final. (Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)
Why Pittsburgh won: The Penguins stumbled out of the gate in Game 4, surrendering their second straight regulation-time shorthanded goal to Ottawa just two-and-a-half minutes into the first period and trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes. However, the visitors settled down after that, played an incredibly disciplined game and overwhelmed the Senators by directing a near-constant barrage of rubber at goalie Craig Anderson (outshooting Ottawa 42-33) and chasing the Sens starter at the 8:39 mark of the third after the Pens scored three goals in a 1:45 span.
Why Ottawa lost: Because once again, the Sens couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, giving Pittsburgh four power plays and successfully killing off only two; because their defensemen had a terrible night (particularly Sergei Gonchar, who took two minor penalties, was utterly lost on Pascal Dupuis’ shorthanded goal that made it 5-2 and finished the night a minus-4); and because Anderson simply couldn’t do it all. The veteran goalie gave his teammates a chance to win through the first period, but they let him down in the two that followed.
Play of the game: The Senators began the second period with a 2-1 lead, but Pittsburgh swooped in on them immediately after the first intermission: Chris Kunitz scored at 1:08 to tie it, then Jarome Iginla gave Pittsburgh their first lead of the game 40 seconds later. The pile-on came in the third period, but the demoralizing took place long before that.
1. James Neal: It took him a series-and-a-half to do it, but Neal finally had the breakout performance people were expecting of him. His two goals and three points all came early when the game was still close and he was too much for the Sens’ defense to handle.
2. Sidney Crosby: Six shots, one goal, two points and 13 wins out of 20 faceoffs. Just another night at the office for the planet’s best player.
3. Jarome Iginla: The star winger popped in his third and fourth goals of the playoffs and fit in nicely on the power play. If he heats up at the same time Neal does, Iginla could help make Pittsburgh’s offense all but unstoppable.
What's Next: Game 5 will take place Friday in Pittsburgh and the Senators will need to revert to the patient approach that won them Game 3. If not and the Pens jump on them early and chase Anderson for the third time in the series, Ottawa will bow out with a whimper. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, looks to be getting more comfortable/familiar with their many moving parts. That should terrify not only the Senators, but also the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh’s likely opponent in the Eastern Conference final.