A Ray Day for Senators

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The Senators rode the "A-Train" past "Sid the Kid" and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Anton Volchenkov was an unlikely hero when his blast from the point found the net with 10:46 left in the third period -- the deciding goal in a 2-1 win Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.

The Ottawa defenceman's second career playoff goal, which beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, gave the Senators a commanding 3-1 lead in this first-round series. Ottawa can send Pittsburgh packing with a win tomorrow in Game 5 at Scotiabank Place.

Volchenkov was set up by Mike Comrie, who worked hard to get the puck back to the point.

"The guys were applauding (Volchenkov) when he got into the room," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "They were saying, 'We've been waiting nine months for you.' It was a great pass by Comrie and a good play."

"I don't score many goals. That was a big goal, for sure," said Volchenkov.

Jason Spezza also scored for the Senators, while Jordan Staal was the only Penguins shooter to beat Ray Emery, who had his strongest effort of the series.

This was by far the best game of the series ... the kind of effort that was expected when the puck was dropped in Game 1 a week ago.

Now, Pittsburgh is facing long odds -- only 20 times in 214 series has a team down 3-1 come back to win. And while there has been a lot of talk about the Senators' poor history in the playoffs, the club has closed out the opponent in 5-of-6 attempts when they've had a 2-1 lead.

They're 4-for-4 when up 3-1.

"To get up 3-1, against that team, is really important," said Comrie. "If we go home tied 2-2, we're in a tough situation. We've got a chance to get this done, but we know that team is going to come hard."

Trying to spark the Penguins, coach Michel Therrien shook up all four of his lines. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were placed with veteran Mark Recchi.

Emery the difference

"That's the first time we've looked comfortable in this series," said Therrien. "Emery was the difference. He was really good tonight."

The Penguins, who've had their share of issues in this series, finally came up with the kind of performance people expected. They were using their speed, played physical and got good opportunities on Emery.

"That was a gutsy effort," said Murray. "I thought Ray Emery answered a lot of questions."

After the 10-minute mark of the first, the Senators didn't look good. They were getting beaten to pucks, losing battles along the boards and, suddenly, it was looking like this series was taking a turn for the worse for Ottawa.

Staal tied it 1-1 in the second. He made up for an earlier mistake by picking up a rebound in the slot and banging it past Emery at 9:14. At that point, the Senators hadn't even recorded a shot in the second, and they wound up outshot 13-4 in the period.

The opening goal by Spezza on the power play was a fluke, bouncing off Staal's stick and over Fleury. The officials had to go upstairs to make sure winger Chris Neil, who took a swipe at it while it was in the air, didn't touch the puck.

"It's tough. I thought we played well. Every guy can come off the ice and know he gave an honest effort," said Crosby. "If we go into Ottawa and bring that game, we'll give ourselves a chance."

FOR FULL SENATORS-PENGUINS COVERAGE, pick up Wednesday's Ottawa Sun, or check back with Ottawasun.com Wednesday morning, when we'll also have our updated Senators Playoff Photo Gallery online.


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