Last Updated: 2017-05-18
The Eastern Conference Finals resumes on Friday with the Ottawa Senators hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins for game 4 at Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators continued to shock the hockey world on Wednesday as they easily defeated the frustrated Penguins to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Sens got on the board just 48 seconds into the game with a goal from Mike Hoffman. They went on to rapidly put 3 more past Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury in a span of 2 and a half minutes to make it 4-0 by the 12:52 mark. Matt Murray replaced the dejected Fleury who had allowed 4 goals on just 9 shots.
Pittsburgh was unable to mount any sort of a comeback although they finally tallied on the power play at the 6:07 mark of the third when Sidney Crosby beat a smoking hot Craig Anderson. The Penguins are now 1 for 9 on the power play in the series.
The story was much the same as game 2 and even game 1 to an extent. Ottawa continued to do an excellent job at stifling Pittsburgh’s offense in the neutral zone, the defense was excellent, and the Sens were physical. Let’s not forget about Craig Anderson. It also helped that Ottawa dominated the faceoffs. Ottawa has done all of its scoring at even strength having gone 0 for 7 with the extra man. Tempers were running a little high in the second half of the game and we can expect a spirited and physical game 4.
The puck drops at 8:00 PM EST and viewers can watch the live action on CBC, Sportsnet, and NBC.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators
Moneyline: Pittsburgh -114, Ottawa +103
Over 5 (-110), Under 5 (+100)
The Penguins have not been able to sustain much pressure or puck possession all series but they’ve had a few good shifts. When they do gain the offensive zone they can’t seem to get many scoring chances and when the have had opportunities they’ve run into a goalie who is playing like a brick wall.
We need to remember that the core of this squad is very experienced and has been in this situation before. They obviously need to regain their scoring touch and keep plugging away. The Pens have been held to 2 goals or less in 7 of their last 8 games including the last 6 straight. That is unacceptable for a team that possesses such potent scoring ability.
Key injuries on the back end are starting to take their toll as was demonstrated in the first period of game 3 although they did have Trevor Daley back in the lineup. While it isn’t time to pound the panic button quite yet, Pittsburgh needs to start thinking about making a few adjustments if they are going to knot up the series on Friday. Even though Marc-Andre Fleury is probable, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone if coach Mike Sullivan gives the nod to Matt Murray. It wouldn’t be so much of a knock against Fleury as would be a message to the whole team.
Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, and defenseman Justin Schultz are listed as questionable for Friday’s game.
The Sens have a lot of reasons to feel good about themselves right now but they know they cannot let off the gas. In fact, they will likely need to step it up a bit on Friday as they can expect Pittsburgh to give them all the fight they can handle.
They must keep clogging the neutral zone, keep hitting and keep blocking shots. They have been outperforming Pittsburgh in all of those categories so far this series and that’s why the series is where it’s at.
If Derick Brassard and J.G Pageau can have the same success in the faceoff circle then Ottawa can continue to control the puck. Ottawa will also be relying on Craig Anderson to keep doing what he has been doing.
Alex Burrows left game 3 with a leg injury and is listed as questionable for game 4.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Betting Trends and Predictions
As mentioned above, Pittsburgh has scored 2 or fewer goals in 7 or their last 8 games including the last 6 straight. Ottawa has allowed 3 or fewer goals in 11 of their 15 playoff games. Over the past 10 games, Pittsburgh is 1-4 as a favorite while Ottawa has gone 7-5 as an underdog during this postseason.
The Penguins are 20-7 in their last 27 games after losing by 3 or more goals and they are 39-14 in their last 53 games played after scoring 2 goals or less.
I will consider the Senator’s 1st period scoring outburst in game 3 to be an anomaly. I really think the scoring will revert to what we saw in the first two games as Ottawa stays the course and Pittsburgh tightens their defense.
My Pick: Under 5 goals (+100)