Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Tip-off: Friday, May 24, 2013 – 7:30 PM ET
CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson needs for his team to win as he isn’t ready for the traditional season-ending handshake just yet.
The Senators need to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight if they want to prevent that from happening.
Pittsburgh grabbed a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals with a 7-3 rout on Wednesday night, leading Alfredsson to offer the Senators “probably” can’t win three straight.
The 40 year-old captain insists he wasn’t surrendering, just accepting Ottawa’s increasingly slender NHL odds heading into Game 5 on tonight in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh moved within a game of a berth in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in four years by erupting for four goals in the third period, overwhelming the Senators in an outstanding display of firepower.
Even so, all those goals count for just one win. It takes four victories to move on, not three. The Penguins were in a similar position in 2011, when they took a 3-1 lead in the first round versus the Tampa Bay Lightning only to lose in seven games, including a 1-0 loss at home in Game 7.
The loss dropped the Penguins to 0-6 at home in potential series-clinching wins under coach Dan Bylsma, a number Pittsburgh and YouWager oddsmakers believe is an anomaly.
If Pittsburgh is able to bring the swarming attack that swamped Ottawa in Game 4, things should be good for the Penguins. This team tilted the ice for the better part of three periods, dumping the puck deep into the Senators end then using its speed and aggressive forecheck to smother Ottawa to within a game of its season.
Penguins forward James Neal broke out of a mini-slump with two goals and an assist. Jarome Iginla scored twice. Sidney Crosby added one and defenseman Kris Letang collected four assists. As bettors know, this kind of play can be hard to come by in the postseason. However Pittsburgh has largely avoided the button-downed approach prevalent this time of year.
The league’s highest scoring team of the regular season is also the highest scoring team of the NHL playoffs, averaging nearly a full goal a game better than the other seven teams remaining in the field.