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5 Keys: Penguins at Senators, Game 4

Goaltender Matt Murray starts for Pittsburgh; Ottawa tries for fifth straight home playoff win

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

PENGUINS at SENATORS

8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

Ottawa leads best-of-7 series 2-1

 

OTTAWA - Goaltender Matt Murray will make his first start of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday.

 

[RELATED: Injuries leave Penguins undermanned for Game 4 | Senators show national pride by putting Canadian flag on helmets]

 

Murray, who helped lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season, was injured during warmups before the Penguins' first playoff game April 12. Marc-Andre Fleury started that game and played every minute for the Penguins until Murray replaced him 12:52 into the first period of Game 3 on Wednesday after Fleury gave up four goals on nine shots in the Senators' 5-1 victory. Murray faced 20 shots and gave up one goal.

The Senators will try to extend their home winning streak in the playoffs to five games. They are 5-2 at home during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are 5 keys for Game 4:

 

1. Goalie change

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he was happy with Murray's relief performance in Game 3. It was his first game action since a 7-4 win against the New Jersey Devils on April 6.

"I thought he was really solid in there," Sullivan said. "He's had a lot of practice time here in the last couple of weeks. We feel like we have two guys that are capable of helping this team win."

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm3: Murray gloves down Ryan's redirect

 

2. Penguins injuries

Sullivan may opt to use seven defensemen and 11 forwards, as he did in Game 3, because the Penguins are undermanned. Forwards Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz are out with upper-body injuries; Sullivan said Thursday forward Tom Kuhnhackl has a lower-body injury; he hasn't played since Game 6 of the second round against the Washington Capitals on May 8.

But defenseman Trevor Daley, who returned from a lower-body injury in Game 3, isn't buying injuries as reason the Penguins are down 2-1 in the series.

"There's no excuses," he said. "They [the Senators] have a lot of injuries too, I'm sure. A lot of guys are playing with injuries right now."

 

3. Shutting down Sidney Crosby

Crosby got his only point of the series when he scored a power-play goal in the third period of Game 3, and the Penguins center has been limited to six shots on goal. Most of the heavy lifting against Crosby has been done by the defense pair of Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson, although Methot feels shutting down the NHL's top regular-season goal scorer is a team effort.

"It takes five guys, for sure," Methot said. "There's no key to it. You've got to work as hard as you can. You take a shift off against a player like him, and he'll find a way to score or set someone up."

After being limited to one goal in each of the first three games, the Penguins need a breakout game from their captain.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm3: Crosby deflects puck five-hole for PPG

 

4. Senators expect pushback

The Senators had a 4-0 lead Wednesday before the game was 13 minutes old. They are expecting a big start from the Penguins in Game 4 and know they have to be prepared.

"We expect them to come out with their best game of the series so we've got to raise our level of play to a level that we know we're capable of," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "We know that they are going to come with a push, and we've got to push also."

 
5. Ottawa's puck management

Coach Guy Boucher said the Senators gave the puck away too much, particularly breaking out of their zone, in their 1-0 loss in Game 2. They fixed that in Game 3, and it will be a priority again in Game 4.

"You always want to have a good start, but for me a good start is you don't give the opponent freebies and you manage the puck well," Boucher said. "The only thing we focused on [in Game 3] was managing the puck better on our breakouts and our zone entries, and going to the net more. That's it. We didn't change anything else."

One thing that was different was the faceoff advantage. Ottawa was 37-17 (65 percent) on faceoffs in Game 3 after the Penguins were 37-23 (62 percent) in Game 2

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Scott Wilson

Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Mark Streit

Matt Murray
Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: None

Injured: Bryan Rust (upper body), Justin Schultz (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body), Kris Letang (neck)

 

Senators projected lineup

Clarke MacArthur -- Derick Brassard -- Bobby Ryan

Mike Hoffman -- Kyle Turris -- Alexandre Burrows

Zack Smith -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Mark Stone

Viktor Stalberg -- Tom Pyatt -- Ryan Dzingel

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched:  Tommy Wingels, Chris Kelly, Ben Harpur, Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body)

 

Status report

Burrows, who sustained a lower-body injury in Game 3, will be a game-time decision. Borowiecki took part in the optional morning skate and is close to returning from a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins, but won't play.

 

Who's hot

Malkin has a goal and an assist in this series and leads all scorers in the playoffs with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists). Kessel scored the winning goal in Game 2 and had an assist in Game 3; he has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 15 games. … Karlsson had an assist in Game 3 and leads all defensemen in playoff scoring with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists). Ryan has four points (one goal, three assists) during the conference final. Anderson has allowed three goals on 83 shots (.964 save percentage).

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