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Senators must make power play pay off against Penguins

In 0-for-25 drought entering Game 5 of Eastern Conference Final

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- It has been more than three weeks since the Ottawa Senators have scored on the power play, a drought that goes back to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the New York Rangers. Since then, the Senators have defeat an opponent many thought would defeat them and have played the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-2 tie in the Eastern Conference Final, with Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

And still, no power-play goals.

The Senators are 0-for-25 with the man-advantage since they scored in the opener against the Rangers. That goal came after they scored five power-play goals in their six-game series against the Boston Bruins in the first round.

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Senators series coverage]

 

"It's just a little frustrating right now," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "It's not much more to say about that. [The Penguins are] doing a good job in controlling our breakouts, and when we get it in the zone we don't really get the opportunities that we want.

"It's something that we're going to figure out, but it's the way it is right now. We have no real doubts that our power play is good enough to generate a [few] more goals, and it's going to come here as we move on in the series."

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm4: MacArthur deflects home Ryan's setup

In that span, there have been games in which the power play was good, with good puck possession and with good chances, even if the ultimate results were not there. That was not the case in Game 4 on Friday, a 3-2 loss to the Penguins at Canadian Tire Centre, when the power play didn't generate much of anything and Ottawa was not able to generate momentum from it.

"We should start with getting a few shots on net and going from there," forward Clarke MacArthur said. "I just think the passes and the breakouts, we weren't crisp enough. Just the little plays on the power play to slow things down and really set up, we need to do a better job of that."

Coach Guy Boucher wasn't sugar-coating the power-play problems in Game 4.

"I have to know what's what and when it's awful, it's awful," he said. "It hasn't been awful. We have had all the puck possession and the looks that we wanted to, we just haven't scored. [In Game 4] we did not. That was not a good power-play day. We have to be better."

The Senators were 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 4, including a chance with 37 seconds left in the game and Ottawa trailing by a goal. They had a 6-on-4 advantage with goaltender Craig Anderson pulled but couldn't tie the game.

For Boucher, the issue in Game 4 was a larger one; he didn't feel the Senators did much with possession in any phase of the game. "If you can't handle the puck 5-on-5," he said, "you're not going to handle it on the power play either.

"They had good pressure, and our support and speed wasn't good enough on 5-on-5. It was the same on the power play."

However, that could as easily be attributed to the success of Pittsburgh's penalty kill.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm4: Pyatt redirects Karlsson's slapper

"I think [in Game 4] we took a step in the right direction for sure in terms of how aggressive we were," Penguins forward Carl Hagelin said, "and we did a good job of clearing the puck every time we had a chance. You don't want to give those guys too many opportunities. Last game we took a few too many penalties, but we found a way to kill them off."

Before the Senators flew to Pittsburgh on Saturday, Boucher said the goal was to have at least one game per series when the power play wins the game. That has not happened through the first four games of the Eastern Conference Final, but it likely will have to for Ottawa to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We've had that the first series, we've had that the second series and definitely at some point or another we're going to need one of those games where the power play makes a difference," Boucher said. "What I didn't like about it [in Game 4] is that we didn't get the 'O' zone time and the puck control that we did the previous games.

"So it wasn't just about the end result [in Game 4]. It was more about the zone entries and the handling of their pressure; we didn't do very well at it. So that we'll need to do better, for sure."

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