It's over; Pens win
05.26.2009 10:00 p.m.
Carolina never stopped fighting, but it just didn't have enough to stop the Pittsburgh express to the Stanley Cup Final.
Pittsburgh won Game 4, 4-1, on the strength of goals by role players Ruslan Fedotenko and Maxime Talbot, who got the game-winner on as unusual a goal as you will see. Bill Guerin added an insurance goal in the third. Craig Adams, on an unselfish assist from Crosby, scored an empty-net goal in the last minute.
The Penguins won this game without much contribution from their stars. Sidney Crosby had a nice assist on Guerin's goal, but was held without a shot for most of the game. Evgeni Malkin had no points -- nor any shots -- in Game 4 after scoring six goals in the first three games. Malkin also took two first-period penalties.
Yet, the Penguins still won going away -- thanks in part to the best game of the series by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Now, they wait to see who wins the Western Conference Finals -- Detroit leads three games to one -- to find out whom they will play in the Stanley Cup Final.
--Shawn P. Roarke
Twenty minutes from a sweep
05.26.2009 9:06 p.m.
Pittsburgh got the only goal of what was a pretty even second period to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
The goal was a mirror image of the first-period goal Sidney Crosby scored in the first period of Game 3. This time, Bill Guerin jumped on a turnover at the defensive blue line, pushing the puck to Crosby before filling the lane behind Crosby as he drove down the ice.
As a result, he was in perfect position to receive a cross-ice pass threaded past Joni Pitkanen and just push the puck into the net before cam Ward could get across the goal crease.
Ward had made a few big saves before that goal, stopping Tyler Kennedy with his blocker and flashing a toe to steer a Kris Letang slapper harmlessly into the corner.
Eric Staal has also been a monster in this game, dominating shift after shift, despite being regularly double-shifted by Carolina coach Paul Maurice.
Pittsburgh needs to hold this two-goal lead for 20 more minutes to finish the sweep and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second-straight season.
--Shawn P. Roarke
Pittsburgh up after first
05.26.2009 8:27 p.m.
Carolina got the start it wanted when Eric Staal scored a wraparound goal just 1:36 into the game, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with the Hurricanes' first shot.
But, just like in Saturday's game 3, Carolina couldn't hold the lead, allowing Pittsburgh to score a pair of unusual goals to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
First, it was Ruslan Fedotenko being in the perfect spot to basically tap an off-target Philippe Boucher slapper into the open net as he stood behind cam Ward, who had moved out to cut down the angle.
Then, with just 1:29 left in the first, Max Talbot scored the unlikeliest of goals. After a turnover at the Carolina line, max Talbot had a 1-on-1 rush against Anton Babchuk, in the lineup in place of Frank Kaberle. Talbot's shot ran right up the shaft of Babchuk's stick and popped high up into the air, tumbling right over the glove of Ward, who appeared to lose it in the lights.
Pittsburgh continued its habit of out-shooting Carolina in this series, finishing with a 9-5 advantage after one period.
--Shawn P. Roarke
05.26.2009 7:35 p.m.
Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu is, indeed, scratched from tonight's lineup with a lower-body injury.
His replacement is Patrick Dwyer.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice will open the game with Matt Cullen centering for Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose. The Pens counter with Sidney Crosby centering for Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz.
--Mike G. Morreale
Pre-game skate news
05.26.2009 7:07 p.m.
Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu did not participate in the pre-game skate prior to Game 4 at RBC Center this evening -- leading us to believe he will not be in the lineup. Scott Walker and Erik Cole were on the ice.
Wing Patrick Dwyer and defenseman Anton Babchuk were also on the ice. So long as we're able to get internet access just prior to the opening faceoff, we'll update Ruutu's status at that time.
Dwyer played in Game 2 of this series, his first playoff appearance this spring, and chipped in one assist and was a plus-1 in 4:04 of ice time.
--Mike G. Morreale
Game 4 news/notes
05.26.2009 5:40 p.m.
Well, managing editor Shawn Roarke and myself are in the house at RBC Center preparing for Game 4. It's due or die for the Carolina Hurricanes, who trail, 3-0, in this best-of-7. The players and coach Paul Maurice were saying all the right things this morning following the morning skate and now it's up to the boys to produce if they have any intention of extending their season.
The only game-time decision for Carolina is Tuomo Ruutu -- we'll update his status at the pre-game skate later on. There are no significant injuries to report on the Pens side.
Here are a few odds and ends to get you started:
* Carolina has not been swept in a postseason series since the Montreal Canadiens ousted the Hartford Whalers in four games in the 1989 Adam Division Semifinal. The last time the Hurricanes trailed a series, 0-3, was in 2001 when the 'Canes rallied to win Games 4 and 5 before falling in Game 6 to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
* Only two teams in NHL history - the 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Detroit Red Wings - have come back to win a best-of-7 playoff series after trailing 0-3.
* The Penguins are 18-24 all-time in the fourth game of a best-of-7 with a 7-12 mark on the road. The club is 25-23 all-time in games that could clinch the series and tonight's contest marks the fifth time this post-season the Pens have been in this situation and are 2-2 in those games.
* The Hurricanes are 4-3 and have outscored opponents 21-19 at home this postseason. Carolina's power-play is hitting at a 14.3 efficiency in the postseason and the penalty kill has only allowed three goals on 20 times short (85 percent).