Goalie change sparks Penguins Game 4 win
OTTAWA — If it was a spark he wanted with the goalie change, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan got it in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Penguins’ offense woke up, Sidney Crosby played his best game of the series and new-old Penguins No. 1 goalie Matt Murray was strong in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.
The win evens up the series 2-2, as the reigning champs keep willing their way to wins in a postseason run when they seem to lose a player each game to injury. This one was no exception on that front.
How it happened: Crosby scored and assisted on the first two goals to help the Penguins jump out to a crucial early lead against a team that is especially stingy when it’s protecting a lead. Crosby’s goal came on the power play, where he set up shop to Craig Anderson’s left and banged home his second goal in as many games on a nice pass from Jake Guentzel.
This game also featured goals from Penguins not named Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Phil Kessel for the first time all series with defenseman Olli Maatta opening the scoring and fellow defenseman Brian Dumoulin getting a break when his pass ricocheted off the Senators’ Dion Phaneuf’s skate for a goal. Maatta’s goal was the first from a Penguins defenseman since Game 4 of the second round. It was also his first career playoff goal in 47 postseason games.
About that goalie change: Murray got the start, replacing Marc-Andre Fleury in a coach’s decision that wasn’t without debate. Murray was great early, making a series of saves in the first period that kept the game scoreless, including a save on Derick Brassard that showed that his flexibility was completely back following the return from a lower-body injury. He finished with 24 saves.
Controversial hit: With 25 seconds remaining in the first period, Senators forward Bobby Ryan caught Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel in the head with an elbow along the boards that knocked Ruhwedel woozie. Ruhwedel stayed on one knee and then slowly worked his way off the ice and down the tunnel for evaluation. Ryan, who should have received a charging penalty, at the minimum, wasn’t penalized. Penguins defenseman Ian Cole, who defended his teammate by jumping Ryan, received the only penalty on the play (for roughing). Ruhwedel didn’t return, the latest Penguins defenseman to go down. Coach Mike Sullivan said Ruhwedel has a concussion and will be evaluated in Pittsburgh.
What’s next: The series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.