Penguins even series behind total team effort.

Posted on May 20 2017 - 12:24am by Jason McDermott

It’s a best of 3 series now. NHL.com

Matt Murray fought off 24 of 26 shots he faced on Friday night to help the Pittsburgh Penguins even up the Eastern Conference Finals at two games a piece.

He also fought off the tears of Marc Andre Fleury supporters as a lot of controversy surrounded Mike Sullivan’s decision to go with Murray after ONE bad game from the Flower.

This guy was strong, no doubt….but so was the team in front. NHL.com

No matter what side of the fence you fall on, (admittedly I was a big supporter of #29 getting right back in, you rally behind the logo on the front and not the name on the back.  Here is the thing that matters.

The team you root for, came out successful and have re-established home ice advantage as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

 

Put into the equation that Craig Anderson finally looked like a goalie who is not super-human.  The Penguins would take advantage of Anderson struggling to hold his post or proper angles in net to build a 3-0 lead.  Now the momentum is now back on the side of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Ottawa started the game with a small flurry that was snuffed out by Murray and the Pens defense.  Pittsburgh then controlled the play for the better part of the next 45 to 48 minutes before having to fight off an Ottawa charge late in the game.  Nick Bonino had a huge block in the games final moment in the slot.

Goals from unlikely sources such as Olli Maata and Brian Dumoulin helped the cause tremendously as did a power play strike by your captain, Sidney Crosby.  Maatta’s goal was his first ever playoff marker, and Dumoulin’s was a fortunate bounce off of the skate of an Ottawa defender from a puck that looked to be well wide.

 

Pittsburgh is now 12-2 under Sullivan after a loss in the playoffs, going back to last year’s run.

The Penguins improved to 9-1 this Spring when the score the first goal.

Pittsburgh out shot Ottawa 35-26 for one of the few times this post-season that they out-shot their opponent.  The Pens were also a lot better in the face-off department after being beyond brutal in Game Three.  While Ottawa still held a 31-28 edge on the night, it was most assuredly, an improvement.

The Penguins were 1 for 2 with the man advantage while Ottawa was 0 for 4.

In addition to the PPG, Crosby would also get an assist on Maatta’s game opening tally at 19:16 of the first period.  Maatta would glide in and beat Anderson short side as the Pens carried the lead and a bunch of confidence to the first intermission.

With J-G Pageau win the box for roughing, Crosby would take a pass at the side of the net from Jake Guentzel and have two or three whacks at it before it seemed to carom inside the near post.  Dumoulin’s goal would really silence the home crowd as the Pens seemed to be in full control.

But the long-lost Scottish-warrior Clarke MacArthur would get the Sens on the board with a minute and a half to go in the second period to create some tension.  Bobby Ryan with the nifty back door pass to set it all up.

Murray would mostly hold the fort and make several key saves in the third before Erik Karlsson put a shot on goal that changed direction twice, finally off of Tom Pyatt’s skate to shave the lead to one with five minutes left.

Murray would make a huge save then on Karlsson and have to fight off a six-on-four Sens attack when the Penguins were whistled for an awful too-many-men penalty late.

Chad Ruhwedel would exit the game the game late in the first with an injury and not return.  He took a high hit to the head from Bobby Ryan that looked dangerous and dirty.  After the game we would learn that he indeed is suffering from a concussion.  No penalty was called on the play, it was most assuredly a charge.  Kudos to Ian Cole for leveling Ryan, even if he went to the box for it.  Just garbage officiating all around.

No need for NHL Player Safety to get involved. NHL.com

For all of the Marc Andre Fleury talk of redemption up to this point, Olli Maatta deserves your attention as well….

But the injuries just keep coming.  After two-plus grueling series, I’m thinking if you go to game five with ice hockey gear……there is a reasonable chance you will get a shift of ice time.

Once again the boys rise to the occasion, for all the noise about goalies and line up decisions (btw…why is Connor Sheary still dressing?  If anything he should be in a jersey of the opposing team as he seems to help them more when he is on the ice) the Penguins are TWO wins from a return trip to the Finals.  Clear your differences until the season is finished, one way or another.

And show up for Game Five, ready to rock.

Thanks for reading!  Let’s Go Pens!!

 

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