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Penguins explode in third, take 3-1 series lead

The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- It seemed only a matter of time before linemates James Neal and Jarome Iginla started putting pucks in the back of the net.

That time came Wednesday at Scotiabank Place, where both Pittsburgh Penguins struck twice in a 7-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

The win gives the Penguins a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven set, with Game 5 in Pittsburgh Friday.

Neal and Iginla entered Wednesday with one and two goals, respectively, in the Penguins first seven playoff games.

"It was a big game for our team to bounce back," said Iginla, referring to the Penguins' double-overtime loss in Game 3. "I thought all the guys were ready. As a line we just wanted to put pressure on and get scoring chances.

"We had some good scoring chances early, but as a line and also as a team we just stuck with it. Guys stayed positive, kept doing the same things. Fortunately we were able to get some later."

Backed by more brilliance from goalie Craig Anderson and goals by Milan Michalek and Kyle Turris, the Senators clung to a 2-1 lead after one period. Things changed quickly after the intermission, however, as Chris Kunitz and Iginla scored 40 seconds apart to put the Penguins in front by the 1:48 mark. While Anderson kept his team within one the rest of the period, Pittsburgh erupted with four more goals before the midway mark of the third. Anderson was replaced by Robin Lehner after Sidney Crosby had made it 6-2 on Pittsburgh's 38th shot.

Pascal Dupuis had the other Penguins goal with his team short-handed, while defenseman Kris Letang added four assists. Daniel Alfredsson tallied late in the third for Ottawa.

"I don't know how it looked to you guys, but from our standpoint we thought they were having a tough time keeping up in the first period," said Penguins' defenseman Brooks Orpik. "We just wanted to keep playing the same way.

"Anderson played great the other night, but it's tough for them to expect him to play that well every night. It was good that we finally got to him a little bit."

After surviving all six shorthanded situations they were faced with in Game 3, the Senators penalty killers couldn't keep the Penguins' power play muffled again. Pittsburgh converted two of five man-advantage opportunities Wednesday.

An obviously unhappy Senators coach Paul MacLean didn't take questions at his post-game press conference.

"Everything is right here," he said, holding up the game sheet. "See you in Pittsburgh. We'll show up to play."

Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves in the Pittsburgh net.

Alfredsson's goal represented his 100th career playoff point.

After Michalek set up the Senators captain for the dramatic short-handed goal that sent Game 3 into overtime, Alfredsson returned the favor with a neat pass in the defensive zone to spring Michalek for a breakaway -- and Wednesday's first goal -- with the Senators short-handed.

Anderson, who was victimized by Crosby for three goals in Game 2, made three huge stops off Crosby by the 11-minute mark of the first period in Game 4.

"We know we can beat them," said Ottawa winger Chris Neil. "Just because they have a bunch of superstars doesn't mean they're going to win the Stanley Cup."

NOTES: Trade deadline acquisition Brenden Morrow was out of the Penguins' lineup as coach Dan Bylsma replaced him and Tanner Glass with two other forwards, Jussi Jokinen and Beau Bennett. ... The Senators inserted 21-year-old winger Mark Stone into the lineup for the first time in the playoffs and put him on a line with Jason Spezza. Stone, a scoring star as a junior, made his NHL debut in Game 5 of last spring's opening-round series against the New York Rangers and set up Spezza for the winning goal. He had played four NHL games since, at the start of this season, and was sent to the minors after producing no points. ... To make room for Stone, Senators coach Paul MacLean sat down Cory Conacher.
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