The Pittsburgh Penguins trailed 2-1 after the first period, then exploded with six unanswered goals to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. James Neal and Jarome Iginla each scored two, while Kris Letang added four helpers in a 7-3 smattering of the Ottawa Senators.
The Penguins controlled the puck for most of the first period, out shooting the Senators 16-11. However, they trailed after one when the Senators cashed in two of their minuscule chances in the period.
With Pittsburgh on the power play, Daniel Alfredsson sprung Milan Michalek for a breakaway from the blue line. Michalek skated in on Tomas Vokoun and picked the top left corner of the net with a perfect wrist shot.
Craig Anderson looked strong early on, making brilliant saves in the first period while getting a little help with the posts and his defensemen. James Neal hit the far post with a wrist shot, and the puck went behind Anderson's back and out the other side. Later in the period, Sidney Crosby's shot was blocked by the left toe of Chris Phillips, preventing the puck from going into a wide open net.
The Penguins finally got on the board when James Neal scored 14:56 into the first period. Neal corralled a loose puck off the face off and fired a blistering wrist shot past the glove hand of Anderson.
Kyle Turris scored a minute and a half later to give the Senators a 2-1 lead. Erik Karlsson's wide angle shot skipped towards the net and Vokoun left a juicy rebound in front. Kris Letang couldn't clear the puck and Turris jabbed it in for his 5th goal of the playoffs.
Any worry of Craig Anderson stealing this game went right out the window two minutes into the second period.
Chris Kunitz took a stretch pass at the blue line from Pascal Dupuis and beat Anderson with a wrist shot five-hole while on a breakaway. Forty seconds later, Jarome Iginla tapped in a bad rebound left by the goaltender to give the Penguins their first lead of the game.
Sergei Gonchar's penalty 1:07 into the third period opened the flood gates for Pittsburgh.
James Neal scored on the power play after a wide shot from Sidney Crosby came right to Neal on the other side of the net.
The Senators earned a power play of their own eight minutes into the third, but a shorthanded goal from Pascal Dupuis erased all hope of a comeback. Matt Cooke circled around the Ottawa net and backhanded a pass to Dupuis who was parked in front of the net for the slam-dunk.
Thirty-one seconds later, Sidney Crosby buried a backhand shot over Anderson's left shoulder after cutting towards the middle of the ice with no one around. Jarome Iginla added a power play goal to bring Pittsburgh's total to seven on the night.
The Penguins will have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2009 with a win Friday night in Pittsburgh.
- Kris Letang is the third Penguins' defenseman to register four assists in one playoff game (Murphy, Coffee).
- The Penguins are now 8-2 in their last ten Game 4's.
- Pittsburgh has drawn 21 power plays in 4 games against the Senators.
- Kris Letang
- James Neal
- Jarome Iginla
Photo courtesy of NHL.com