Penguins rebound to tie unpredictable series with Senators: Arthur

Penguins rebound to tie unpredictable series with Senators: Arthur

OTTAWA—Among all the mess — uncalled slashes, accidental head shots, shoving and elbows, shot blocks and headlocks — one thing stood out: Sidney Crosby was back, and Pittsburgh was back. The Penguins star had been relatively undistinguished since his second-round concussion and subsequent crash into the boards, his goal in Game 3’s blowout notwithstanding. “A goal in a 5-1 game?” he said. He seemed unimpressed.But as chaos further enveloped this series, with Pittsburgh losing another defenceman and Ottawa’s players taking turns going to the room and coming back, it was the Penguins who tipped it back towards Pittsburgh. Crosby was better, Evgeni Malkin was good, and Matt Murray, inserted in goal for Marc-Andre Fleury, was good enough. They are, as they say, champions for a reason.In the end the Penguins won Game 4 by the score of 3-2, now the series is tied 2-2, and god knows how this thing ends. Nashville and Anaheim are bashing one another to death in the west — Nashville lost No. 1 centre Ryan Johansen for the season after Game 4 — and neither Pittsburgh not Ottawa would be favoured if that series started today, is the bet here.Either way, this thing is going deep, and neither team seems able to take control of the series for more than one game — and sometimes one period — at a time. The Penguins started Murray in goal, who had been out since April 6 with a groin injury. Based on his words and attitude after Thursday’s practice, Fleury — and Crosby and maybe Malkin, seemed like — expected no change in goal. Friday morning, they made it official: Murray would start.Article Continued BelowIt surely angered Fleury, who has always been one of the best soldiers in the NHL; he had a .924 save percentage as the Penguins were outshot like mad through the first 2 ½ rounds. After so many playoff failures, and after stabilizing his often-too-akimbo technique, this was Fleury’s best chance — and maybe last one — to redeem himself in the playoffs with this group, which so loves him. But the playoffs can be cruel, as Fleury knows. The Penguins have been riven by injuries; they had 14 goals in their previous eight games, and as Chris Kunitz put it, asked about secondary scoring: “I think any scoring would be good, right?” He was put back on Crosby’s line, and both Crosby and the Penguins were sharper, and still after Jake Guentzel hit the knob of Craig Anderson’s stick on one play, and had a clean shot from the slot in quick succession, you half-wondered if they would ever score again. No dice. But finally, with under a minute left in the first period, someone not named Crosby, Malkin, Phil Kessel or Guentzel got one — defenceman Olli Maatta, off a pass from Crosby, recovered a puck and lifted it under Anderson’s arm: 1-0, Penguins.

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