The top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will try to finish off the Ottawa Senators on Friday when they host Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in this series before the seventh-seeded Senators got on the board with a 2-1 overtime triumph in Game 3 at Scotiabank Place. However, Pittsburgh answered the call in Wednesday's Game 4 in Ottawa, slamming the Senators by a 7-3 score to take a commanding 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven set.
Wednesday's game began well for the Sens, who grabbed a 1-0 lead on Milan Michalek's shorthanded goal just 2:29 into the game. Ottawa would carry a 2-1 edge into the first intermission, but Pittsburgh would answer with the six unanswered goals to take a stranglehold on both the game and series.
James Neal and Jarome Iginla each had two goals to help the Penguins rout the Senators in Game 4. Kris Letang registered four assists, while Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis each registered a goal and one helper for Pittsburgh.
"I don't think you ever expect a (blowout)," said Crosby. "We did a good job sticking with it. We kept coming and we stuck with things. It would have been easy to get frustrated after the first (period) with how that went and the chances we created."
Tomas Vokoun also made 30 saves to improve to 5-1 in this postseason. The veteran goaltender has been Pittsburgh's starter since taking over for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury prior to Game 5 of the opening round against the New York Islanders.
In addition to Michalek's early goal, Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris scored for Ottawa. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was pulled after allowing six goals on 38 shots, but he will get the start again in Game 5.
The Senators tied a franchise record for most goals surrendered in one postseason contest, after a 7-6 OT loss to Buffalo in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on May 5, 2006 and a 7-4 defeat to Pittsburgh in Game 4 of an East quarterfinal on April 20, 2010.
"See ya in Pittsburgh. We're going to Pittsburgh and we're coming to play," Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said in a terse statement to the media.
Alfredsson, the Senators' longtime captain, did not seem as optimistic as his coach following Wednesday's lopsided loss.
"Probably not," Alfredsson said when asked if his team has a chance to come back and win this series. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, it doesn't look too good for us."
The 40-year-old Alfredsson, who reached 100 career playoff points with his goal on Wednesday, is considering retirement and Friday's game could be the final contest of his standout NHL career.
The Sens are 2-3 on the road in the playoffs and were just 10-11-3 away from Scotiabank Place during the regular season. Pittsburgh was 18-6-0 in the Steel City during the season and is 4-1 at CONSOL Energy Center in the 2013 postseason.
If necessary, Game 6 will be played Sunday in Ottawa.