Goaltending had to be the chief concern for the Ottawa Senators entering the playoffs, and this was why. Not only were Elliott and Pascal Leclaire a middle-of-the-pack duo during the regular season, they had combined to play in zero NHL playoff games in their respective careers. Not exactly a favorable matchup when you're going up against the defending champs.
On Tuesday night it all started unravel for the Senators in the crease, as Elliott was chased early in the second period after giving up four goals on 19 shots, while Leclaire was victimized for three on 23 shots, as Ottawa lost a 7-4 shootout of a game that looked like it came straight out of the 1980s, complete with bad goaltending (at both ends of the ice), a lot of goals and scrums after every whistle.
With the loss, the Senators will now be facing a win or go home game in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
The Penguins came out and dominated play for the first 30 minutes of regulation, controlling the puck and jumping out to a 4-0 lead just 26 minutes in, leading to coach Cory Clouston lifting his starting goaltender. For the series, Elliott has surrendered 14 goals on just 95 shots for a dismal .852 save percentage. It wasn't all his fault, of course, but it was pretty clear that he was rattled as the Penguins had a three minute stretch early in the second period where they scored three goals. Clouston pretty much has no other choice but to return to Elliott for Game 5, as Leclaire has won just one of his past 12 starts, and been pulled three times during that stretch. Can you really trust that out there in a must-win game?
Meanwhile, for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby continued his dominant series on the scoresheet with a four point night, scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists, while also displaying more of the behind-the-net dangling he showed late in Game 2. Chris Kunitz chipped in three points of his own, while Max Talbot added a shorthanded goal and an assist in the win.
Still, for as dominant as the Penguins were in the first half of the game, Ottawa played with plenty of desperation and refused to go away quietly, cutting into the lead on a number of occasions, even though they failed to get closer than two goals.
The game also became quite heated in the closing minutes, as Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Neil, Matt Cooke and a number of other players were involved in a series of scrums that resulted in three 10-minute misconducts, three roughing penalties and two cross-checking penalties.