Even Strength Offense: A

This was PPIH at its finest. Early on, they just came at the Senators in waves. They were forechecking and skating with abandon. The only thing lacking was the finish. They just could not get a puck past Andersuck. Then, out of nowhere, off a faceoff, Neal ripped one past the stunned Ottawa goalie, and the floodgates opened. The pens’ quick-strike ability shone last night. In the second, they got goals from Kunitz and Iginla 40 seconds apart. In the third, the rout was on when they scored three times in 1:45, though only one was at even strength. One got the sense that once the Andersuck Dam broke, the Pens could have scored at will. But they wisely backed off and paid more attention to the defensive end after they got the big lead.

Even Strength Defense: B

In the first period, they had some problems in their own end. Turris scored from right in front, and Ottawa had several other great chances. The Pens tightened up after that and played a solid, though not spectacular, defensive game the rest of the way.

Power Play: C

It started off just as horrible as it was the previous game. Somehow, Letang and Geno let Michalek break through right up the middle for a shorthanded goal. That could have been a backbreaker, but the Pens did not let that happen. In fact, they ended up scoring two power play goals on a tap-in by Neal and a wrister by Iginla. The Pens managed only 6 shots in almost 6 minutes of time, but at least they made them pay off.

Penalty Kill: A

The PK was once again effective when it needed to be. They allowed a power play goal, but that was late with the game out of hand. You could tell the Pens were kind of going through the motions on it, not wanting to block shots and risk injury.

Goaltending: B

There was nothing Vokoun could have done on the first and third goals, but the second one was a brutal rebound he kicked right out in front. That led to a scramble where Letang fell on him and Ottawa scored. But Vokoun didn’t let the bad goal get to him and buckled down to stifle Ottawa until the meaningless last goal. He was once again solid and at times spectacular.

Overall: A

This was a purely dominant performance. From the outset, you could tell that the Sens’ only chance was for Andersuck to stand on his head like he had done the previous game. He did—for one period. But the Pens got to him in the second with the two quick goals, then totally broke him in the third, driving him from the net. It was an incredibly impressive performance, especially coming on the heels of the previous game’s disastrous ending. The Pens totally put that behind them and dominated the outmanned Senators from the start. It was an impressive bounce-back performance that many teams likely couldn’t have pulled off.

And now, the rest of the story…

Sid: A

He was keyed in from the start, and the rest of the team followed his lead. That’s how a captain leads.

Diving Whining Choking Dog Alfredsson: F

This, on the other hand, is NOT how a captain leads:

“Facing elimination Friday night in Pittsburgh, Game 4 might have been Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson’s final home game. When the final buzzer sounded, he grabbed the puck and skated off the ice for possibly the final time in front of Senators fans.
‘We don’t have much going for us right now,’ said Alfredsson. ‘Maybe that’s the way we like it.’ When asked if the Senators have a shot at coming back on the Penguins, Alfredsson said (via NHL.com’s Erin Nicks), ‘Probably not. They have too much depth,’ but did add the team will not give up.

Geno: B

He played a very solid game, and did not come out trying do it all to atone for his error the previous game. That in itself was impressive. But he gets dinged for the shorthanded goal he and Letang conspired on.

Kris Letang: B-

How does a defenseman who has four assists and was the game’s number one star only get a B-? Well, by balancing that out with being on the ice for all of Ottawa’s goals and being at least partially responsible for two of them. he was whining about a lack of a penalty call when Michalek jetted up the middle, and he tumbled into Vokoun on the second goal. To his credit, he rallied from that lousy start to lead the Penguin offense. he could have totally gone out of control after that start, but he didn’t.

James Neal: A

Way to prove me wrong, James. I ripped him for being a playoff choker after the last game, and he comes back and scores two last night.

Jarome Iginla: A

I can’t recall who called him SOW after the last game. But he also notched two.

Pascal Dupuis: A

I always forget to give him his A. Not this time. The shorty he scored broke the back of the Sens and likely put an end to any thoughts they had of winning the series.

Jussi Jokinen: A

Nice to see him back.

Jack Adams: A

I like what he did with the fourth line. They might not be a traditional fourth line of grinders, but the skill down there with Jokinen and Bennett really caused problems for Ottawa. One several shifts, they cycled the puck beautifully for entire shifts. It might not work all the time, but it can in this series.

Crank You

He boomed Chris Neil into the boards.

Sergei Gonchar: F

Remember Sarge’s disastrous final game with the Pens where Montreal guys used him as a pylon? Well, last night might have been his last in Ottawa, if not the NHL, and he was a lovely -4 and was that same pylon on Dupuis’ shorty.

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A guide to the game grades can be found here.