Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
OTTAWA - Paul MacLean’s few words spoke volumes about what he thought of his team’s performance in their 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 Wednesday night.
In a most uncharacteristic move, the Ottawa Senators coach didn’t take a single question in his post-game scrum. Instead, he held up the score sheet and said:“I think everything’s right here. It’s 7-3. See you in Pittsburgh. We’re going to Pittsburgh and we’re coming to play. Have a good night.”
The loss leaves MacLean’s Senators trailing the Penguins 3-1 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with Game 5 Friday in Pittsburgh.
This was the third time in franchise history the Senators have allowed seven goals in a playoff game, the most recent in 2010 against Pittsburgh in a 7-4 defeat.
The rout was that much more disappointing considering the Senators jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Ottawa opened the game with a short-handed goal by Milan Michalek. James Neal tied the game at the 14-minute mark, but Kyle Turris regained the lead with less than four minutes remaining in the period.
It marked the first time in this series that Ottawa had the lead, but two Pittsburgh goals in 40 seconds at the start of the second changed the entire game.
The Senators had little explanation for how they let the game get away.
"We know they're a team who really wanted to get this one and so did we, but we didn't shut them down enough when it matters," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "When we're up 2-1 we let them get back in and get up and it gave them some confidence."
Pittsburgh put the game out of reach with a power play goal by Neal at 1:59 of the third to make it 4-2. Craig Anderson gave up two more goals, just 31 seconds apart, before being pulled for the second time in this series.
“In these games we’re certainly not helping (Anderson),”said Marc Methot.“He’s given us every opportunity to win all these hockey games in this series and he’s been so strong so you can’t put any of this on him. This is up to us and we’ve got to help him out and be better for him.”
The second period continues to be a problem for the Senators this post-season. Ottawa has been outscored 13-4 in the second period in these playoffs.
“I thought we came out so strong,”said Methot.“We came out the way we wanted to, that was part of our game plan. Maybe we got a couple of unlucky breaks which separated the score a little bit and maybe we hung our heads a little bit after that and kind of allowed them to walk all over us and that’s unacceptable."
The Senators have shown resiliency all season, but it would likely take an extraordinary effort for Ottawa to win the next three. Even Alfredsson admitted,“it’s probably not”feasible, however the captain isn’t about to give up easily.
"We're going to go out and play one hell of a game," said Alfredsson. "That doesn't worry me at all. We never quit and that's not going to stop now. We know the odds are against us in every way, but we never quit and that's going to continue.
"I don't think there's much going for us, but maybe that's the way we like it."