for this game

Ruutu helps Penguins complete sweep of Senators

Apr 17, 2008 - 4:54 AM
OTTAWA (Ticker) -- Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, they were not the same team that represented the Eastern Conference in last year's Stanley Cup Finals. They also learned that the Pittsburgh Penguins are not the same club that they eliminated in the 2007 conference quarterfinals.

Jarkko Ruutu snapped a tie late in the second period and the Penguins went on to complete a sweep of their best-of-seven conference quarterfinal series with the Senators with a 3-1 victory in Game Four on Wednesday.

Superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby also tallied for second-seeded Pittsburgh, which outscored Ottawa, 16-5, in gaining revenge for last postseason's five-game elimination.

"It was a different situation last year, and we definitely went through some learning experiences," Crosby said. "I think we responded well, and in this series, we worked hard and we deserved to win. For us, it's our first playoff series victory together, and it feels great."

Penguins left wing Ryan Malone believed the team was more interested in just winning the series, regardless of the opponent.

"I don't think we were too focused on them," Malone said. "We were more focused on playing our style and bringing our game to them."

Crosby added an assist and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves for the Penguins, who last swept a best-of-seven series against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.

"This is obviously a big win for us against the team that knocked us out last year," Fleury said. "Everything went well for us, but I think we played a great series, and now we'll get ready to move on."

"It's a good feeling however you win, whether it's in seven (games) or four," Crosby said. "It's just great to win the series. We worked hard for four games and earned it, so it's nice that we're able to be rewarded for it."

Cory Stillman netted the lone goal for the Senators, who went 1-for-13 on the power play in the series.

"The turnovers, the poor finishing, the inability at times to get the puck out of our own end. That became a factor as the series went on," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said.

"Confidence was a big factor," Senators right wing Martin Lapointe added. "I think our confidence level wasn't quite there. And when you're down 3-0 in the series, it's tough to come back."

Senators defenseman Wade Redden, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, was disappointed with the difference between last season's team and the one that just was eliminated.

"It's hard to say why it happens," Redden said. "We got off to a great start (this campaign), but then we were up and down for the rest of the year. I guess we just never became a team like we did last year. It's hard to pinpoint the reason."

With the game even at 1-1, the Penguins moved in front for good with 4:32 remaining in the middle period.

With defenseman Brian Lee draped all over him, Ruutu lost full control of the puck during a partial breakaway. But the Finn spun around and put a backhander past goaltender Martin Gerber from the doorstep for his second career playoff tally and a 2-1 edge.

"I took the pass and got a half-breakaway," Ruutu said. "As I was trying to cut to the middle, I kind of lost (the puck) a little bit. But I still had the reach and I just turned around and tried to put it at the net, and it went in."

After a scoreless first period, Malkin gave Pittsburgh the lead early in the second with a power-play goal.

Crosby made a cross-slot pass from the right faceoff circle to Malkin, whose first shot was stopped by Gerber. However, the Russian swept his own rebound past the netminder at 1:40 while holding his stick with one hand for a 1-0 lead.

Ottawa pulled even midway through the period as a bouncing puck in the crease found its way to Stillman, who punched it into the net from the right side at 10:31 for his second goal of the series and the 19th of his postseason career.

The Senators nearly forged another tie with 2:59 to go in the period. But following a lengthy video review, it was determined that Antoine Vermette intentionally kicked the rebound of captain Daniel Alfredsson's shot from the right circle into a vacant left side of the net, nullifying the goal and keeping Ottawa behind by one.

Despite outshooting Pittsburgh, 9-4, in the third, Ottawa was unable to get the equalizer past Fleury.

"I felt good tonight, but the guys played great in front of me," Fleury said. "In the first two periods, they didn't have many shots or good chances. But they came hard in the third, so it was nice to be able to make some big saves and get the win."

"Fleury was there for us right from Game One," Crosby said. "When they had chances, he stood tall, and that's what it's going to take throughout the playoffs."

Crosby sealed the victory with an empty-netter with eight seconds remaining as the Penguins snapped an eight-game losing streak in Game Fours. Pittsburgh also improved to 5-3 in Game Fours of series in which it established a three-games-to-none lead.

For Crosby and many of his teammates, however, it's the first step in learning how to win in the postseason.

"We have guys with a great attitude and some great experience who can definitely lead by example," the 20-year-old captain said. "I think if we take anything out of this, it's that the difference between winning and losing a game is very small. If you don't kill a couple of penalties or you make a couple of turnovers that result in goals, that can mean a loss. It's such a small margin for error."

"Every guy gave it their all, and it was a great team effort in all four games," added Malone, the hero of Game Two. "The next round is going to be one heck of a challenge, so we've got to be ready for that. Get a little refreshment mentally and get ready for the next round."

The Senators failed to get production from their top three scorers as Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza combined for two assists in the series.

"It's very disappointing," Heatley said. "Sometimes things go well and everything you shoot goes in the net, and sometimes you can't buy a goal. That's the way it goes sometimes. When it's not going well, you've got to battle out of it. ... The bottom line is that when things weren't going good, we couldn't battle out of it."

"When we started losing, it seemed like we just kept losing," Spezza said. "It felt like the walls were closing in on us, like we were running out of time."

Alfredsson, who missed the first two games of the series with a knee injury, was upset the Senators couldn't record a victory in front of the crowd at Scotiabank Place.

"It's disappointing. Our chance to go further and play for the (Stanley) Cup is over," the Swede said. "The fans really got going, but obviously, losing here like this is tough."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 2 1 3
    OTTAWA 0 1 0 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PIT - (PP) EVGENI MALKIN 2 (SIDNEY CROSBY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    1:40
    OTT - CORY STILLMAN 2 (WADE REDDEN, ANTON VOLCHENKOV) 10:31
    PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 1 (TYLER KENNEDY) 15:28
    3RD PRD: PIT - (EN) SIDN

    Apr 16 9:39 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PITTSBURGH 3
    OTTAWA 1
    3RD PRD: PIT - (EN) SIDNEY CROSBY 2 (UNASSISTED) 19:52

    Penguins 3, Senators 1  3rd - 0:08Apr 16 9:36 PM
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    Penguins 3, Senators 1  3rd - 0:08Apr 16 9:36 PM
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    Penguins 2, Senators 1  3rd - 2:00Apr 16 9:32 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 2 2
    OTTAWA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PIT - (PP) EVGENI MALKIN 2 (SIDNEY CROSBY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    1:40
    OTT - CORY STILLMAN 2 (WADE REDDEN, ANTON VOLCHENKOV) 10:31
    PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 1 (TYLER KENNEDY) 15:28
    SHOTS ON GO

    Apr 16 8:44 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PITTSBURGH 2
    OTTAWA 1
    2ND PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 1 (TYLER KENNEDY) 15:28

    Penguins 2, Senators 1  2nd - 4:32Apr 16 8:32 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PITTSBURGH 1
    OTTAWA 1
    2ND PRD: OTT - CORY STILLMAN 2 (WADE REDDEN, ANTON VOLCHENKOV) 10:31

    Penguins 1, Senators 1  2nd - 9:29Apr 16 8:24 PM
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    Penguins 1, Senators 0  2nd - 15:40Apr 16 8:16 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PITTSBURGH 1
    OTTAWA 0
    2ND PRD: PIT - (PP) EVGENI MALKIN 2 (SIDNEY CROSBY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    1:40

    Penguins 1, Senators 0  2nd - 18:20Apr 16 8:07 PM
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    Penguins 0, Senators 0  End of 1stApr 16 7:50 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 0
    OTTAWA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 14 14
    OTT 5 5
    GOALIES: PIT - MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
    OTT - MARTIN GERBER

    Apr 16 7:48 PM
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