OTTAWA, Ontario – Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and the resurgent Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Friday night to even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.
Crosby had only one point as the defending champion Penguins dropped two of the first three, leading to questions about his health following a jarring concussion in the second round.
Matt Murray made 22 saves in his first start of the playoffs after Marc-Andre Fleury was chased in the first period Wednesday night in the Penguins’ 5-1 loss in Game 3. Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta added goals to help Pittsburgh take a 3-0 lead midway through the second period.
Clarke MacArthur and Tom Pyatt scored for Ottawa.
Game 5 is Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Starting for the first time in more than six weeks, Murray made a strong stop on Mike Hoffman less than two minutes into the game and denied Viktor Stalberg on a pair of follow-up opportunities. The goalie made maybe his best stop on Derick Brassard’s backhander, kicking the shot away with his right pad.
Fleury started the first 15 games for Pittsburgh with Murray mostly sidelined by injury.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring with 46 seconds left in the first period when Maatta went down the left side and fired a short-side shot past on Anderson. Crosby set up the play.
Pittsburgh’s already battered defense took another blow late in the first when Bobby Ryan hit Chad Ruhwedel. Ian Cole immediately throttled Ryan, as Ruhwedel was down on the ice. Ryan somehow escaped a charging penalty on the play, and Cole drew the only call for roughing.
The Pens are already without Kris Letang, who is done for the playoffs, and Justin Schultz, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.
Crosby’s brilliance showed up again midway through the second on a power play after Jean-Gabriel Pageau ripped off the Pittsburgh star’s helmet in a scrum around the net.
Crosby stationed himself right on the doorstep to Anderson’s left, his right leg hugging the post for support. That didn’t allow him to score on the initial setup from Jake Guentzel, but helped him to bang in the follow-up for the 2-0 lead. Guentzel had two assists.
Dumoulin made it 3-0 less than four minutes later with a shot from the left point that caromed in off Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf’s skate.
Ottawa had mostly neutralized the high-powered Penguins in the first three games, holding them to just three goals — a mark they equaled in less than 32 minutes of Game 4. Pittsburgh seemed to find more speed, got more shots in tight and capitalized on opportunities around the net.
Following that initial flurry in the first, the Senators had little going right until the last two minutes of the second when Ryan found MacArthur with a crafty backdoor pass for Ottawa’s first goal.
The Sens pulled within one with five minutes left when Pyatt got a skate on Erik Karlsson’s already-deflected point shot.