PENGUINS at SENATORS
(Pittsburgh leads best-of-seven series, 3-2)
This is take two for the defending Stanley Cup champions in their attempt to move into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Penguins and Senators battled into the third overtime at Mellon Arena on Thursday before a point shot by defenseman Matt Carkner
deflected off Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke
and past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
to give Ottawa a 4-3 win in Game 5 and fresh life for at least another 60 minutes of hockey.
Thursday's game was the fourth-longest in the history of the Pittsburgh franchise and a tough one to lose when just one goal would have finished the series and given the Penguins some extra rest before the next round. They overcame an early 2-0 deficit to go ahead 3-2 on a Sidney Crosby
goal 9:01 into the third period, but it lasted just 83 seconds before Peter Regin
notched the tying goal that forced all those overtime periods. Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the team wouldn't be demoralized.
"It's a loss," he said. "We could have lost, 10-1. We could have lost, 2-1, in regulation. It doesn't matter.
"If we play the right way -- and we feel like we did -- we feel like we'll get rewarded for it."
If Ottawa hopes to pull off the rare comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, this may be its most difficult game. While the Senators have won two of the three games played so far in Pittsburgh, they've lost both games at Scotiabank Place, where they went 26-11-4 during the regular season. That includes a Game 4 defeat in which Pascal Leclaire relieved Brian Elliott. The veteran then got the call for Game 5 and finished with 56 saves to keep the score tied until Carkner's winner.
"Our situation hasn't really changed that much from last night," Leclaire said Friday. "We've still got to win to stay alive and that's our main focus right now."
Crosby is averaging nearly three points per game for Pittsburgh and his total of 14 leads all postseason scorers. Evgeni Malkin
has two goals and two assists during a three-game points streak and has four goals and three assists in the series.
Leclaire has a .927 save percentage in the series for Ottawa. Regin leads the team with three goals, though all were scored at Mellon Arena. Spezza has a team-high six assists and seven points. He and captain Daniel Alfredsson
(1-5-6) have points in all five games.
Defenseman Jordan Leopold has been out for the Penguins since taking a heavy hit from blueliner Andy Sutton of the Senators in Game 2, while forward Tyler Kennedy
missed Game 5 with a leg injury and is day-to-day.
Crosby needs two assists to tie the Pittsburgh franchise record held by Ron Francis (11 vs. Washington in 1995) and three points to equal the mark held by Mario Lemieux (17 vs. Washington in 1992). … Ottawa rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson
led his team with 40:38 of ice time in the triple-overtime affair. Karlsson has contributed two assists in each of the last two games. He has one goal and six points in the series.
"It's definitely the most exciting hockey game I've ever been a part of," Leclaire said Friday about Game 5. "You don't play hockey to play exhibition games. You want to be a part of those nights and it was fun. My family and friends were all up until (1 a.m.) last night and everybody's complaining because they're tired today. But you want to be a part of that. It's fun, it's playoff hockey and it's cool."