Penguins' Crosby produces four more points for 11 in series
Sidney Crosby, center, celebrates one of his two second-period goals with teammates Chris Kunitz, left, and Bill Guerin as Ottawa's Chris Neil looks on. The Penguins scored five goals in the period en route to a 7-4 victory in Game 4 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Ottawa's Mike Fisher, left, and the Penguins' Kris Letang crash off each other and the boards early Tuesday night in Ottawa.
Chris Kunitz beats Ottawa's goalie Pascal Leclaire to put the Penguins up, 6-3, late in the second period. Chris Kelly tries to help for the Senators.
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OTTAWA -- Yes, it was a nice goal.
And it was a perfectly reasonable payoff for some quality work by Max Talbot and Craig Adams, too.
It just was not a goal that anyone expected to become the winner.
"Definitely not," Talbot said.
After all, when Talbot -- with just one hand on his stick -- steered an Adams feed behind Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire while the Penguins were short-handed at 12:38 of the second period, it gave them a 5-2 lead, which should be a pretty comfortable cushion at any time of year.
But the Senators refused to wilt and, with an occasional assist from the Penguins, ended up putting four pucks behind goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, which is how Talbot's goal came to be the winner in the Penguins' 7-4 victory Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.
The victory gives the Penguins a 3-1 lead in this Eastern Conference opening-round series and a chance to clinch a spot in the second round by winning Game 5 at 7:08 p.m. Thursday at Mellon Arena. If the Senators survive that one, the series will shift back to Ottawa Saturday for Game 6.
• Series: Penguins, 3-1.
• Next game: Senators at Penguins in Game 5, 7 p.m. Thursday at Mellon Arena.
• TV: FSN Pittsburgh.
• The skinny: With at least one game still to play, Sidney Crosby (11 points) has already recorded the second most productive series in his postseason career.
Two of Ottawa's goals in Game 4 came during five-on-three advantages, so limiting the number of power plays they give the Senators figures to be a priority for the Penguins over the next day or so.
"We actually took a lot of dumb penalties," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "The only way they were going to get back in it was on the power play, and we put it right on a tee for them."
Penguins right winger Tyler Kennedy did not play after appearing that his right leg or knee was injured on a hit by Senators defenseman Andy Sutton at 1:50 of the second period. There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of his problem.
If Kennedy cannot dress for Game 5, Ruslan Fedotenko, a healthy scratch the past three games, likely is the leading candidate to replace him.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby was the dominant force in the game for the third time in the series, scoring two goals and setting up two others. He has been involved in 11 of the Penguins' 17 goals to date.
The Penguins' power play had a bit of a new look, with Kris Letang replacing Alex Goligoski on the left point of the No. 1 unit, and it put them in front to stay at 11:50 of the opening period.
Evgeni Malkin got the goal, his fourth of the series, by one-timing a feed from Sergei Gonchar past Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott from near the top of the right circle.
Ottawa hung with the Penguins reasonably well until a 12-second span early in the second period, when Crosby and Matt Cooke scored to put them up by three.
Crosby got his third of the series at 3:47, when he beat Elliott from between the hash marks. That goal staggered the Senators, and the one Cooke scored at 3:59 effectively knocked them out.
Talbot stole an Elliott pass behind the goal line and tossed it to Cooke, who stuck a shot past Elliott from the left hash.
Crosby raised the Penguins' lead to 4-0 and drove Elliott from the game at 6:12, when he scored from the top of the right circle.
Senators coach Cory Clouston replaced Elliott, who had allowed four goals on 19 shots, with Leclaire during that stoppage. Coincidentally or otherwise, Chris Neil poked a puck under Fleury 54 seconds later to rejuvenate his team.
Ottawa's pulse got a bit stronger at 10:59, when Daniel Alfredsson got a cross-ice feed from Erik Karlsson and one-timed a slap shot past Fleury from the top of the left circle.
"The momentum was definitely changing in the second period," Gonchar said.
Talbot's short-handed goal at 12:38 disrupted Ottawa's surge, but Matt Cullen made it 5-3 at 13:19.
Chris Kunitz put the Penguins in front by three again at 18:11 and, after Jason Spezza revived the Senators a bit at 7:37 of the third, Jordan Staal choked off their comeback by scoring on a rebound at 12:27.
Although Ottawa, overmatched and undermanned, appears to be all but officially out of the series, the Penguins insist they are taking nothing for granted.
"They have a lot of resiliency over there," Adams said. "They've dealt with some pretty bad injuries this year and a lot of adversity.
"Even tonight, it was 4-0, and they didn't quit. And we didn't expect them to. So I don't expect them to do that [now]."
First Published April 21, 2010 12:00 am