OTTAWA – The Craig Anderson dam finally burst Wednesday night, and the result was a flood of goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins had two full days to think about how Anderson stole Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday by making 49 saves in the Ottawa Senators' 2-1 double overtime win. They kept telling themselves that if they continued to produce a high number of quality scoring chances, they would eventually convert.
That's exactly what happened in Game 4, as the Penguins scored six times on Anderson in a 7-3 win that gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is scheduled for Friday in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"From their side, I think it's tough to expect [Anderson] to play that well every single night," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "He's a great goalie, but that's tough to do against shooters this good in a seven-game series."
It looked like Anderson was about to do it again in the first period; he stopped a number of high-percentage chances against elite shooters like Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby. The Penguins had 16 shots in the first but came away with just one goal, by James Neal, and trailed 2-1.
"It was the first time in regulation that we've been behind [in the series]," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There was some good emotion going in the building for their team. We were able to get some good chances and shoot the puck quite a bit and [Anderson] was big and tall and strong. It looked like it was going to be tough to get it by him.
"There was a sense this might take as many shots as we can muster to break this guy. Fortunately we kept on that mindset."
That mindset of continuing to besiege the Senators' net with shots led to the Penguins scoring the game's next six goals, including five on 22 shots against Anderson before he was pulled in the third. Anderson allowed eight goals on 101 shots in the first three games of the series; he surrendered six on 38 shots Wednesday night.
But Crosby knows that Wednesday's scoring barrage doesn't necessarily mean the Penguins have solved the Senators goaltender.
"I think we knew if we kept getting those chances the puck's going to go in," Pittsburgh's captain said. "It's good to see it go in. We know he's a competitive guy, he's going to bounce back and he'll be good next game."