Crosby comes alive, Mur­ray sharp in first start as Sens drop Game 4

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY JONAS SIEGEL

Sid­ney Crosby is just fine. The Pitts­burgh Pen­guins cap­tain quickly put to rest any ques­tions about his play with a resur­gent Game 4 per­for­mance. Crosby had a goal, an as­sist and five shots as the Pens downed the Ot­tawa Se­na­tors 3-2 on Fri­day night, evening the best-of­seven Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal at two games apiece with Game 5 ahead in Pitts­burgh on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Matt Mur­ray was sharp with 22 saves in his first start of the play­offs. Brian Du­moulin and Olli Maatta also found the back of the net for the de­fend­ing champs, who came alive af­ter a stunted start to the se­ries.

Crosby had only one point as the Pens dropped two of the first three against Ot­tawa, lead­ing to in­evitable ques­tions about his health — fol­low­ing a jar­ring con­cus­sion in the sec­ond round — as well as the Sens ef­forts in slow­ing him down.

Clarke MacArthur and Tom Py­att scored for Ot­tawa and Craig An­der­son sur­ren­dered three goals on 35 shots.

Start­ing for the first time in more than six weeks, Mur­ray looked di­alled in right away. He made a strong stop on Mike Hoff­man less than two min­utes into the game and then de­nied Vik­tor Stal­berg on a pair of fol­low-up op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The 22-year-old was head coach Mike Sul­li­van’s some­what sur­pris­ing choice to start Game 4.

Marc-An­dre Fleury started the first 15 games for Pitts­burgh with Mur­ray mostly side­lined by in­jury and had been stel­lar right up un­til Wed­nes­day’s Game 3 when he al­lowed four goals on nine shots in a 5-1 loss.

Sul­li­van de­clined to elab­o­rate on his de­ci­sion shortly af­ter an­nounc­ing it hours be­fore ga­me­time, but Mur­ray kept jus­ti­fy­ing it with his play in the first half of an open­ing pe­riod that saw the Sens — wear­ing small Cana­dian flags on their hel­mets — mostly in con­trol.

He made maybe his best stop on a Der­ick Bras­sard back­hand, kick­ing the shot away with his right pad.

Sur­viv­ing the early storm, the Pens pulled in front with the game’s first goal in the 19th minute on a seem­ingly harm­less shot by Maatta, who strode down the left side and fired short-side on An­der­son. Set­ting up the play was Crosby, who had an ur­gency to his game which had been lack­ing early this se­ries (one goal, no as­sists).

“He cares so much about this Pen­guins team and try­ing to help this team win,’’ said Sul­li­van on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. “I just think that’s part of who he is, and that’s what we love about him is that he’s such a great team guy and he un­der­stands the im­por­tance of his game to help­ing this team win.’’

CP PHOTO

Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Sid­ney Crosby tucks the puck in the net past Ot­tawa Se­na­tors goalie Craig An­der­son as Se­na­tors’ Vik­tor Stal­berg de­fends dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of game four of the Stan­ley Cup eastern con­fer­ence fi­nals in Ot­tawa on Fri­day.

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