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Brennan: That mandatory playoff desperation missing for Senators in Game 4


At this stage of the game, desperation is not a circumstantial thing. Teams have to play with it more often than not if they hope to advance.

The Senators learned that lesson on Friday night.

Don’t believe any theories you hear or read about Matt Murray evening this series while playing spectacularly in his first playoff start since leading the Penguins to the Cup last spring.

This was more about the Senators not testing him nearly enough.

They did not have enough jump from the outset, firing only 18 shots on goal in the first two periods, while the Penguins were busy peppering Craig Anderson with 28 and building a 3-1 lead.

The Senators had plenty of hop in the third, and they put on a furious blitz in an effort to tie the game. But, really, it was too late. 

They lost because they didn’t play with enough desperation to build a 3-1 series lead, and because they passed up far too many shooting opportunities in the game.

And now they have to drum up a little more of their Game 3 selves in Pittsburgh, or they risk being pushed to the brink.

STARTS AND STOPS: If the bubble didn’t burst entirely for Anderson, it at least did a little leaking. He was too deep on Olli (Five Vowel) Maatta’s shot that beat him on a short side that should have been covered, and it felt like he should have been able to get over a little quicker as Sidney Crosby whacked away for the second goal. Anderson was spectacular in the first three games, giving up just three goals, all in the third period, and he was working on a string of four outstanding games in a row. During that stretch, he would not allow the goals he gave up on Friday… That said, Anderson did make 32 saves, his most of the series … Five Vowel’s goal came off a 3-on-2 rush, with Zack Smith being one of the two, after Erik Karlsson had jumped up into the play. None of the three Senators caught up ice hustled back nearly hard enough … Bobby Ryan had been stunned blocking a shot only moments before he made about his fifth ridiculous pass of the post-season to set up Clarke MacArthur’s goal.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Solid tweet from our pal Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch in the second period: “The #Sens power play had better have a great personality.” It sure was ugly to that point … MacArthur once again showed he is fully recovered from concussion issues when he was bounced to the ice by a big hit from Scott Wilson and bounced right up … The puck was not Kyle Turris’ friend in the first half of the game. He couldn’t handle it or pass it very well … Turris admits he’s never had a beard this long in his life. “I don’t think the kids or (wife) Julie like it all that much,” he said Friday morning. “Hopefully another three or four more weeks, and we’re good.” … Did you know that in his rookie season (2008-09) with the Phoenix Coyotes, Turris was billeted with broadcaster Darren Pang, a former 67’s and NHL goalie who grew up in Ottawa? “I was really lucky,” said Turris. “Awesome family.”

THINGS I THINK I THUNK: Penguins centre Matt Cullen is the best all-round 40-plus-year-old player in the league, and yes, that includes Jaromir Jagr. The way Cullen skates, he should not be considering retirement … In the nightly organ project announcement, it was mentioned this is the second anniversary of Eugene Melnyk’s life-saving liver transplant. Why did you people boo that? … And why is it so many after-whistle altercations involve Evgeni Malkin? For a guy who doesn’t speak much English, it seems like Malkin does a lot of yakking on the ice … Maybe another reason players don’t like Malkin: When Dumoulin’s shot heading wide hit Dion Phaneuf’s skate and went in the open side, Malkin pointed at Phaneuf, as if to give him credit for the goal … Even in the playoffs, fans adopt the childish “ref you suck” chant when there are so many more productive things they could be focused on. Like maybe urging on their team or something. What had them crying for a penalty was a good, hard play on Ryan around the net.

POINT TO POINT: Viktor Stalberg was a man possessed in the first half of the opening period. He had the best two Senators chances, first on a wraparound, then with the rebound, 100 seconds into the game. The puck seemed to follow him for a couple of shifts after that … The Penguins had the puck more in the first, when they also won 62 per cent of the draws. Go figure .. Crosby was 7-3 in the circles at that point. He won at least three of them off Jean-Gabriel Pageau … The Penguins outshot the Senators 14-9 in the first period, but they had four shots on their power play. The Senators’ lone man-advantage was too late in the period for them to get a shot … Phil Kessel sold the call by waving his hand when Mike Hoffman slashed him. A couple of seconds into the power play, Kessel was trying to convince the refs the Senators deserved another penalty for shooting the puck into the bench. His hand appeared to be fine … The Senators got a break on the Penguins’ penalty. First Derick Brassard clips Chad Ruhwedel in the face, drawing blood, when trying to steal the puck. Then Ryan bowls over a stunned Ruhwedel. Yet Ian Cole gets the lone penalty for jumping Ryan.

AFTER THE WHISTLE: Murray’s best stop in the first period was the left-leg save that took away an open side from Brassard … The crowd started singing the Jean-Gabriel Pageau song in the first period, just because. He wasn’t doing anything at the time … In the second, Pageau was all alone in front of Murray but the puck was bouncing on him, and rather than make the move to the backhand he probably wanted to make, he whacked it right into the goalie’s pads … A few moments later, Pageau objected too strenuously when Crosby took an extra poke at a puck Anderson smothered (he put Crosby in a headlock and appeared to be looking for a turnbuckle to bounce it off) to draw the penalty that he paid for when the Penguins captain scored to make it 2-0 … Anderson made a breakaway stop off Kessel look easy in the third … Pageau was key on the Tom Pyatt goal that made things interesting at the end.





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