The playoffs are about lessons. Some teams learn. Some teams don't. Some teams die.
With an extra day off between games, the anticipation for Game Four was able to reach its maximum levels as we all waited for some questions to be answered.
Up 3-2 going into the third, the Penguins found the killer instinct they have sorely lacked, stunning the Senators with 4 goals in 10 minutes and chasing Mr. Anderson out of the net for the second time this series.
And just like that, the Penguins now have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win Friday at CONSOL. It would be the first time the Penguins have won a series on home ice since 2008. We'll all be hearing about that little factoid a lot in the next 36 hours.
Also last night, WBS completed their 3-0 series comeback, beating Providence 5-0 on the road. Brad Thiessen played lights-out. First time it's happened in the AHL since 1989.
Pens controlled the entire period, but Craig Anderson was answering everything.
Pens got the first of two power plays about a minute in when Gonch went off.
Pens PP got some good looks. Anderson was everywhere. Later in the PP, Marc Methot wrecked Letang, and Letang had some cobwebs. That led to Alfredsson feeding a great pass to Milan Michalek, who blew past Letang and Malkin and then beat Vokoun. 1-0.
Pens started putting the pressure on the Sens 5-on-5, and it didn't stop. Colin Greening went off for interference behind the play, and the Pens came out with another PP.
This time, Paul Martin was at the point, and they generated some good chances.
That was killed, but at least the Sens didn't score.
The bulk of the period was, again, about Craig Anderson eliminating everything. Iginla had a chance but misplayed the puck.
Crosby was whistling every shift, and he almost stole one away from Anderson on a stick lift, but Anderson swooped back in net to make a save on Paul Martin.
Off an innocent face-off with Iginla taking the draw after Malkin got tossed, Neal grabbed the puck and streamlined one past Anderson. 1-1.
That was a huge goal, even though the Sens came right back and made it 2-1.
Erik Karlsson was back to his thing where he dives and tries to guilt-trip the referees into calling a penalty. This time, it was Kunitz laying him out. Karlsson emoted while Kunitz wandered up the ice. But not all those who wander are lost. Dupuis fed him a puck behind the D, and he cruised in with Malkin in his vapors. Five hole. 2-2.
Moments later, Malkin got things going out of the Pens' zone. He threw it up to Neal, who shoved it over to Letang. Letang threw it on net, and Iginla had one of the easiest goals of his life. 3-2.
Anderson looked shaken and stirred. The Sens were stunned.
Then Alfredsson lost a skate blade, which was hilarious.
Tip your cap to the right post behind Vokoun, because it came up huge twice. The first one came on a sneaky backhand from Pageau.
Later, Vokoun had to make an underrated save on a deflection off of Silfverberg's stick.
Late in the period, Cooke went off for a ticky-tack slashing penalty. The post played its part again when it denied Spezza on a beautiful shot on that PP.
First order of business to start the third was killing off the rest of the Matt Cooke penalty, so they did. When Cooke got out of the box, he goaded Gonchar into attacking him for some reason. The Pens jumped on the PP, and the offense powered up.
Powerplay goal #1
Hopefully it doesn't take a lot of brain power to remember how huge this power play was at the time. It meant everything, and the Penguins acted like it. Kris Letang set up Sidney Crosby with a one-timer. The shot got deflected by Phillips' skate again, but this time it caromed off the back boards right to James Neal's stick. The camera angle on the TV probably had every Pens fan standing up in anticipation of the buryness.
After some jobbing, Niskanen got whistled for a penalty.
The game was still in the balance here. It would be an injustice to this game to forget that. But this shorthanded goal by Dupuis broke the Senators. It was all set up by Matt Cooke. Cooke blocked a shot and then chased it down into the Sens' zone and went behind the net. Anderson decided to try to poke-check the puck for some reason, and he took himself out of the crease. Cooke was about to get drilled, so he just tossed it to the front of the net. Gonchar was — we don't even know what he was doing. Dupuis had an almost-too-easy tap-in.
Probably the first and only time you'll see someone elbow something to release joy. Pretty lazy celebration by Geno, too.
31 seconds later, Crosby turned out the lights in ScotiaBank. It all started with the Senators playing like the Dupuis goal destroyed all hope, and they got careless with the puck. Crosby picked it up and started assessing the situation. Got to mention Beau Bennett's drive to the net. He took a Senator with him, which freed up the slot for Crosby after he broke Phillips' ankle that had blocked a couple of his earlier shots. Backhand snipe, if that's even a thing.
Powerplay goal #2
After Chris Neil roughed up Geno, the Pens jumped on another power play.
Jokinen fed Iginla in the sweet spot in the slot, and he blazed one past Lehner. 7-2.
The Sens would add a late one, but the damage was done.
– After an interesting first period, Vokoun settled in and made all the routine saves that came his way. Solid performance yet again.
– Kris Letang had 4 assists, which ties a team record for assists in a playoff game. Heard that stat thrown around somewhere. Not sure if it was for all positions or just defensemen. We vaguely remember hearing Crosby's name mentioned in getting 4 assists in a game against the Senators a couple years back, so we're guessing it's for all positions.
– Somebody put something in James Neal's whatever he eats before games. Even if he didn't put up any goals in this game, it was clear he had the motor running.
– Jokinen wasn't too noticeable. Bennett was noticeable basically because you're watching him every time he's on the ice.
– Kunitz was hurt for a while but eventually returned.
– Didn't feel like Douglas Murray saw the ice a lot in this one. Lange mentioned on the radio side how Bylsma was playing musical chairs with his defensemen.