Martin Gerber realizes he can't do it all by himself
In what was quite possibly the closest game of the series, Pittsburgh powered their way to a 3-1 retaliation victory to eliminate the Ottawa Senators from Stanley Cup contention.
Similar to Game Three, the first period ended in a scoreless tie. Ottawa certainly didn't look like a team ready to pack it in for the season. The hits were hard, the chances were close and the tempo was beyond the fastest speed metal song you can find.
However that all quickly shifted in the second period when Evgeni Malkin lit the lamp on the power play for the first goal of the game. The 1-0 lead may have been enough for a win, but when you consider Ottawa's three goal rally in game two one can never be enough.
Halfway through the second Ottawa returned the favor on a Cory Stillman goal. Tied up at one, it was an entirely new game.
Prior to the game, penalty box season ticket holder and eternal bane of the opposition's existence Jarkko Ruutu would hardly be seen as the hero. His gritty play and scrapping style has no doubt made him a fan favorite, but to say he'd be the turning point in game four would've been a stretch.
Well - he was. With less than five minutes remaining in the second, Ruutu charged down the ice on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Trying to catch up to the puck, Ruutu hit the brakes in front of Gerber and quickly switched to the backhand, beating Gerber five-hole for the go-ahead and soon to be game-winning goal.
But not so fast.
Ottawa returned the favor soon enough on what appeared to be an Antoine Vermette goal. The Ottawa crowd erupted with the passion and hope of a Game Four victory but was quickly and uncomfortably silent when the play went to the War Room. Upon further review (and despite the CBC announcers insisted it was 'not his intent') the goal was called off in accordance with what was an obvious kick-in.
From thereon-in the Senators played with a hole in their hearts and the dejection showed. Once the clock reached the five minute mark in the third, Penguins fans everywhere began to count down. Ottawa pulled Gerber with just over a minute left and applied heavy pressure. But it all came down to the stick of Captain Crosby to seal the deal with a 100 foot empty netter. Final score 3-1, Penguins victorious in four.
Even more beautiful than the victory (only slight I might add) was the post-game handshake at center ice. If Pittsburgh knew what was good for them, they'd be sure to post that up in the opponent's locker room next year when the season opens up in Sweden.
And now - we wait. Who's next?
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