Penguins still have waddle

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- They won a game, a one-goal game, the type of game they had often found a way to let slip away in the past.

Now the Senators are in a position to finish off the Penguins tonight at Scotiabank Place.

The Senators had no room for a mistake in the final seconds of Game 4 as an invigorated and desperate Pittsburgh team, knowing it could not go down 3-1 in the series, tried for the equalizer.

There's a lot the Senators can take out of that final few seconds to help them tonight.

They know now the level of intensity the Penguins can reach and should be ready to exceed it.

They know they can hang on and prevail in a one-goal game that was playoff hockey through and through.

They know they have a deep list of guys who are gaining trust to make the right play when there is no choice or time or alternative but to make the right play.

How about Jason Spezza in the final seconds?

Senators coach Bryan Murray had him out there in the final minute of a one-goal game in the playoffs.

That says a lot right there.

After Ottawa iced the puck with 44.7 seconds left in the third period, Murray had to leave the Spezza line on the ice.

After waiting about 15 seconds, Murray called a timeout to give the line a chance to recover some of its wind.

Spezza then had to face off against Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Spezza won the draw, defenceman Chris Phillips rimmed the puck around to the right-wing boards and captain Daniel Alfredsson cleared the zone.

"I'm more proud of that than any goal I'll score," Spezza said of being out on the ice in the final minute in those circumstances. "Three years ago, I never would have been put out on the ice like that."

Spezza looked at the game sheet as the Senators dressing room emptied out after the 2-1 win in Game 4.

"Twenty-one minutes on the road," he said of his playing time, appreciating the opportunity Murray has been giving him. "I just want to keep it going."

Murray has seen a difference in Spezza.

"He's so different now. On the bench, he's talking about defence," said Murray.

Spezza wound up 10-6 (62%) on faceoffs in Game 4, the best of anyone taking faceoffs regularly and helped the Senators, who typically have not been a good faceoff team, to win 55% on the night. (In the other games in the series, the Senators won 58% in Game 1, 41% in Game 2 --which they lost -- and 56% in Game 3.)

The Spezza line, backed by the shutdown duo of Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, the Game 4 hero, has played the majority of even-strength shifts against the Crosby line.

It seems to be a matchup both coaches favoured, though Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien seemed to try and get away from it as Game 4 progressed.

It seemed to work for the Senators, not because the Spezza line was checking Crosby as such, but because the Spezza line kept the puck away from him and forced the Crosby line to play some defence of its own.

That will continue tonight.

After the Senators got the puck out after Spezza won the draw against Crosby in Game 4, the Spezza line went to the bench.

Senators goaltender Ray Emery froze the puck with 26.9 seconds left and this time Murray came back with a line of Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette.

Three centres, in case anybody got thrown out of the faceoff circle.

Vermette won the draw again against Crosby and the Senators iced the puck with 14.6 seconds to go.

Again, the faceoff was to Emery's left and Vermette won that one, too, and the Senators kept the puck in the corner until time ran out.

The Senators didn't have their best game, but they found a way to win.

Murray ripped into them in the second intermission.

"I had to get upset. It was the way we were playing," he said, "and the way we weren't playing."

They responded by winning the third period on Volchenkov's goal and then shutting things down.

The Senators found a way to win against a young Penguins team that played its best game of the series in Game 4.

The Senators should expect nothing less from Pittsburgh tonight.


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