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Penguins try to close out Senators, go to East finals

by Brian Hunter


(Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series, 3-1)


Big story: It's no secret the Pittsburgh Penguins have the type of offense that can erupt at any time and blow the opposition out of the water -- unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, that moment arrived in the third period of Game 4. The Penguins turned an up-in-the-air 3-2 game into a 7-3 blowout, and now they have the chance to close out the Senators back at Consol Energy Center and punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Team Scope:

Senators: Throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the third period had been owned by Ottawa. Three of the eight victories recorded by a team trailing after 40 minutes came courtesy of the Senators, so despite the Penguins carrying a one-goal lead into the third Wednesday there was plenty of optimism present at Scotiabank Place that the home team could pull off a rally similar to their Game 3 double-overtime win.

That went down in a flurry of Pittsburgh goals, the final three coming in a 1:45 span. Daniel Alfredsson scored a late power-play goal, but now the longtime Ottawa captain could be facing his final NHL game if the Senators can't win and prolong the series.

"Your focus has to go into [Game 5]," Alfredsson said. "It's a big game. Whatever happens, happens. I don't know myself yet. It's not something about or 'what ifs.' It's about going to Pittsburgh and trying to bring another game back to this building."

Penguins: Frustrated by the goaltending of Craig Anderson in a failed attempt to take a 3-0 series lead Sunday, Pittsburgh chased him for the second time in three games. James Neal opened the third with his second goal of the night, then Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby scored 31 seconds apart. Neal's goal came on a power play, and Dupuis scored shorthanded as the Penguins' special teams came up big down the stretch. Jarome Iginla added his second goal of the game on a power play after Robin Lehner came on in relief.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun won for the fifth time in six starts since taking over for Marc-Andre Fleury. Now the Penguins will try to avoid giving the Senators any life the way they did in Game 3 and earn themselves a little extra rest with a victory.

"It was a tough one the other night to lose," Neal said. "We came in here with a huge effort and got a chance to come back to our rink and close it out."

Who's hot: Alfredsson has a goal in consecutive games and a team-leading 10 points for the playoffs. … Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had a four-assist game Wednesday and has 13 points in 10 games, tops among NHL D-men. Dupuis scored his second shorthanded goal of the series and is tied with Crosby with a League-leading seven goals.

Injury report: Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba (upper body) has been skating but hasn't played since leaving Game 1 of this series. … Pittsburgh forward Brenden Morrow (undisclosed) missed Game 4.

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