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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Senators 2

Sunday, 04.18.2010 / 9:48 PM / 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Coverage
By Jason Seidling
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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Senators 2
 

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QUICK ANALYSIS
Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 advantage in the race to four against the Ottawa Senators following a near-perfect 4-2 victory in Game 3 at Scotiabank Place.

Not only did the Penguins win the key battles on the scoreboard and in the shots column, two of the biggest indicators of how well the Penguins controlled the play, Pittsburgh continued to do the little things which add up to victories in the postseason. The Penguins blocked 18 shots, had 13 takeaways and were exceptional at managing the puck. Pittsburgh was constantly chipping pucks off the boards, backchecking with a purpose and getting pucks and bodies in deep on the Senators’ defense.

Alexei Ponikarovsky’s tally 1:17 into the contest set the tone for the night and allowed the Penguins to quiet the Ottawa crowd and play with the lead from the get-go. The Penguins never trailed and held the lead for all but 4:04 minutes following the Ponikarovsky goal. Marc-Andre Fleury was solid between the pipes for the second straight game with 20 saves on 22 shots.

The Penguins can put the Senators on the brink of elimination with a victory in Game 4 on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
OTTAWA - Maxime Talbot is a popular guy for his bubbly personality and ready smile. He's also popular for the kind of plays he's become known for each spring.
 
Talbot's hustle on a second-period rush by Evgeni Malkin allowed the Penguins' center to score the go-ahead goal and help his team take a 4-2 decision from the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Evgeni Malkin tosses a rebound behind Brian Elliott
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
What Worked Well: Stymieing Spezza and Alfredsson
If the Ottawa Senators hope to prevent the Penguins from going up 3-1 in the series on Tuesday, they are going to need more from Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, who have been bottled up thus far by the Penguins. The pair has zero goals through the first three games.

What Could Have Gone Better: Penalty Kill
One area the Penguins will want to improve heading into Game 4 is on the penalty kill. Pittsburgh, which finished the regular season with the NHL’s ninth-best PK unit, allowed the Senators to go 2-for-4 on the man-advantage. Ottawa is 4-for-9 on the power play through the first three games.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Pittsburgh was able to take control of this pivotal Game 3 just 1:17 into the contest when Alexei Ponikarovsky blew a shot past Brian Elliott from the far circle. Ponikarovsky had arguably his best showing as a Penguin, finishing with a goal, two shots, three hits, two takeaways and a plus-1 rating in 10 minutes of ice time. Ponikarovsky’s inspired play bodes well for the Penguins as they look to grab two more victories in the race to four against the Senators.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
Alexei Ponikarovsky got the ball rolling for the Penguins by scoring on the team’s first shot just 1:17 into the contest. Ponikarovsky picked up a pass off the boards from Pascal Dupuis in the neutral zone, skated down the right seam two-on-one with Evgeni Malkin and stopped at the far dot. After allowing the oncoming backcheckers to skate by, Ponikarovsky unleashed a wicked wrist shot over the glove of Brian Elliott. Pittsburgh 1, Ottawa 0.

Ottawa was able to even the contest on a power play less than two minutes into the second period. Rookie Peter Regin circled with the puck behind the Pittsburgh net before sending a pass in front to a wide open Mike Fisher standing atop the crease. Fisher snapped a shot across his body over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Ottawa 1.

Pittsburgh re-took the lead four minutes later when they stayed with what appeared to be a broken play. Evgeni Malkin had the puck knocked from his stick on the rush but Maxime Talbot lifted the stick of Erik Karlsson and directed a shot off the pad of Elliott. Malkin followed the play and deposited the rebound into the net. Pittsburgh 2, Ottawa 1.

Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a two-goal lead on a great individual play with 45 seconds remaining in the second period. Crosby won a battle in the corner with Andy Sutton, took the puck hard to the net, waited patiently until he saw an open shot and then tossed the rubber over Elliott for his second goal of the playoffs. Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 1.

Chris Kunitz cleaned up his own zone by sending a long pass ahead to Bill Guerin at the Ottawa blue line. Guerin caught the pass with his glove, skated in alone on Elliott and went backhand to forehand before throwing a shot into an open cage. Pittsburgh 4, Ottawa 1.

Matt Cullen rounded out the scoring when he took a pass from Daniel Alfredsson to the left of Fleury and threw a shot over the glove of the Penguins netminder for the Senators’ second power-play tally of the game. Pittsburgh 4, Ottawa 2.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
Pittsburgh dodged a bullet with 42 seconds remaining in the first period. Ottawa’s Jason Spezza sent a pass from behind the Penguins’ net to Peter Regin standing just outside of the crease. Regin knocked the puck behind Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but after the NHL reviewed the play in the war room in Toronto, it was determined that Regin used a distinct kicking motion to beat Fleury. Sergei Gonchar made a great defensive play by lifting the stick of Regin, which is what forced the Senators rookie to have to kick the puck.

Defenseman Jordan Leopold missed Game 3 and will also sit out Game 4 after leaving Game 2 late in the first period after being hit from behind by the Senators Andy Sutton. Leopold was replaced in the lineup by veteran Jay McKee, who blocked two shots and finished plus-2 in 13:28 minutes. Goaltender Brent Johnson took part in the morning skate on Sunday, but he missed his second-consecutive contest battling flu-like symptoms. Rookie Brad Thiessen again served as the backup.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, A. Ponikarovsky (1), 1:17 1st period: Penguins 1, Senators 0
OTT, M. Fisher PP (1), 1:53 2nd period: Penguins 1, Senators 1
PIT, E. Malkin (3), 5:57 2nd period: Penguins 2, Senators 1
PIT, S. Crosby PP (2), 19:15 2nd period: Penguins 3, Senators 1
PIT, B. Guerin (1), 4:27 3rd period: Penguins 4, Senators 1
OTT, M. Cullen PP (1), 12:58 3rd period: Penguins 4, Senators 2

> Pittsburgh takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They will look to take a stranglehold on the series when Game 4 commences at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place.

> The Penguins have won four of their past five postseason contests at Scotiabank Place dating back to Game 2 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. 

> Pittsburgh improves to 8-1 in its past nine Game 3s. The Penguins are 5-1 in Game 3s on the road during that period.

> The Penguins are 20-24 all-time in Game 4s, including a 12-12 mark on the road. Pittsburgh has won four straight Game 4s.

> Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist against the Senators to give him a league-leading seven postseason points (2G-5A). Crosby’s five assists also pace the league.

> Evgeni Malkin scored his third goal of the postseason during the second period, tying him for second in the postseason behind Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom.

> Bill Guerin picked up a goal and an assist in Game 3 to give him three points (1G-2A) over the past two games. Guerin has eight goals and 10 assists in 27 postseason games with the Penguins.

> Alexei Ponikarovsky’s goal was the second goal of his postseason career and his first since April 28, 2004 when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

> Sergei Gonchar’s assist on Ponikarovsky’s goal was the 50th of his postseason career.

> Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz each notched their second assist of the postseason in Game 3. Matt Cooke picked up his first helper of the series.

> Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped 39 of the last 41 shots the Senators have thrown his way.
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
1. S. Crosby
2. P. Regin
3. E. Malkin
"He's cut out to play in the playoffs. He's that type
of player. He raises his game, he's
prepared to battle. That's what you need
to do in the playoffs."

-
Sidney Crosby on Maxime Talbot

Author: Jason Seidling

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