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Playoff Buzz: Senators in control entering Game 4 vs. Penguins

Ottawa has held Penguins to one goal in each of past five games dating to regular season

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators is Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Friday:

 

5:50 p.m.
Season-ending injury for Johansen

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of an injury to his left thigh. Here are all the details.

 

5:30 p.m.
Penguins turn to Murray is pivotal Game 4

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will give goalie Matt Murray his first start of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Murray played a big part in leading the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season when he finished 15-6 with a 2.08 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 21 games. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots in the first 12:52 of the Penguins' 5-1 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday, and Sullivan replaced him with Murray, who allowed one goal on 20 shots.

Staff writer Tom Gulitti spoke to Sullivan about the goalie decision after the morning skate. Correspondent Chris Stevenson has the updated line combinations and more in his 5 keys to Game 4.

Sullivan also confirmed the Penguins will be without defenseman Justin Schultz and forwards Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl. Rust, Hornqvist, and Schultz each missed Game 3. Hornqvist also missed Game 2. Each is out with an upper-body injury, according to staff writer Amalie Benjamin.

 

1:45 p.m.
Penguins starting Murray over Fleury

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray will start Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Murray gets the call over veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who started each of Pittsburgh's 15 prior games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Murray relieved Fleury, who allowed four goals on nine shots faced, in the first period of Game 3 on Wednesday. Staff writer Tom Gulitti has more on the Penguins' goalie situation.

The Penguins will not get back any of their injured skaters, with forwards Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz remaining out of the lineup for Game 4. Tom Kuhnhackl is also out because of an injury.

For the Senators, the idea is more of the same, especially with how they have frustrated the Penguins offense, especially top forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Each of the three forwards has a goal in the series, accounting for the only three goals the Penguins have scored through three games.

And although Crosby still retains the title of best player in the NHL for now, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is making a case that he's the best player currently playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. How did he get there? Staff writer Amalie Benjamin dives into the way this iteration of Karlsson came to be.

 

12:15 p.m.
Penguins look to even series with Senators

The Ottawa Senators have an opportunity to grab a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Senators scored four goals in the first period, including three in a span of 2:18, in their 5-1 win against the Penguins in Game 3 on Wednesday. They have limited the Penguins to one goal in each of the past five games (4-1-0). Ottawa has neutralized the Penguins with a commitment to defense, according to staff writer Amalie Benjamin.

Goaltender Matt Murray will start Game 4 for the Penguins after replacing Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3. Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots faced. Murray stopped 19 of 20 in his 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz and forwards Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl appear unlikely to play in Game 4 and are considered day to day.

[ RELATED: Fantasy picks for Game 4 of Penguins-Senators ]

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who leads all playoff scorers with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists), would like to see Pittsburgh generate more shots and offensive-zone time in Game 4. Correspondent Chris Stevenson spoke to Malkin on Thursday.

 

11:30 a.m.
Stanley Cup Playoff trends continue

The Anaheim Ducks continued a recurring theme in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The Elias Sports Bureau provides the details:

* Anaheim's win marked the 26th overtime game in 75 games this postseason, two shy of the NHL record for most in a single playoff year (28 in 85 games in 1993).
 
* There have been 47 one-goal games this postseason (62.7%), four shy of the NHL record in a single playoff year (51 in 81 games in 2007).

 

11 a.m.
Perry coming through in clutch

Right wing Corey Perry has become "Mr. Clutch" for the Anaheim Ducks.

Perry, 32, scored his third overtime goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 3-2 road win against the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday. The Ducks evened the best-of-7 series, 2-2.

Perry has matched the NHL record for most overtime goals in a single postseason, held by Mel Hill of the Boston Bruins (1939) and Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens (1951).

Perry now has four career playoff overtime goals, trailing Joe Sakic (eight), Richard (six), Glenn Anderson (five) and Patrick Kane (five) for the most in League history. His goal 10:25 into overtime was also his eighth career game-winning goal in the playoffs, tying Teemu Selanne for the most in Ducks history.

 

9 a.m.
Ducks get rare win in Nashville

The Anaheim Ducks on Thursday did something no visiting team had been able to do at Bridgestone Arena since, well, the Anaheim Ducks did it in April 2016: win a playoff game.

Forward Corey Perry's goal at 10:25 of overtime gave the Ducks the Game 4 win against the Predators, evening the best-of-7 Western Conference Final at 2-2.

The Ducks' win ended the Predators' 10-game home playoff winning streak. Their previous postseason home loss came against the Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round on April 21, 2016.

It was the 26th overtime game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The record for overtime games in one postseason is 28, set in 1993.

Here is look at what happened on Thursday:

Anaheim Ducks 3, Nashville Predators 2 (OT)

Forward Corey Perry scored at 10:25 of overtime to give the Ducks, who blew a two-goal lead late in the third period, the win.

The Ducks led 2-0 on goals by Rickard Rakell and Nick Ritchie, but Predators defenseman P.K. Subban made it 2-1 with 6:27 left in the third, and Filip Forsberg sent the game to overtime when he scored with 34.5 seconds left in the third.

Perry was credited with the game-winning goal when his shot from the corner deflected off the stick of Subban and went into the net. The Ducks are 4-1 in overtime this postseason.

Ducks goalie John Gibson made 32 saves, including three in overtime, for the victory.

Columnist Nick Cotsonika has the story for the Ducks side.

The Predators pointed to a slow start as a big reason for the defeat, writes staff writer Tim Campbell.

Video: Perry's OT goal gives Ducks 3-2 win in Game 4

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 36 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Predators can't take Ducks for granted

The Predators have shown in the postseason that their A-game is hard to handle but it's not an automatic and it certainly wasn't present during the first period Thursday. The Ducks have a pretty good A-game too, and even the slightest hint of taking anything for granted left the Predators in a bad spot and eventually on the wrong side of the result.

Nashville has a power failure

The Predators went 0-for-5 on the power play on Thursday, including a two-man advantage for 1:31 in the third period. The Predators are 1-for-17 on the power play against the Ducks, and with the best-of-7 series tied 2-2, they need to start clicking before it's too late.

Ducks can dominate

After getting outshot 40-20 in a 2-1 loss in Game 3, the Ducks outshot the Predators 14-2 in the first period of Game 4. Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle stopped worrying about matchups so much and rolled four lines. They got in a flow, were more patient and confident with the puck, made plays up the ice and sustained pressure in the offensive zone. They need to do more of that, and for 60 minutes.

Ducks are undisciplined

Four penalties in the third period? Two overlapping minors to give the Predators a two-man advantage for 1:31? Though the Ducks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, the Predators' first goal came shortly after a penalty expired, and the power plays put the Ducks on their heels. The Ducks are known for being penalty prone, but that cannot happen.

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