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Ottawa Senators

Power play drought continues as Senators drop Game 4

Jason Kopinski/Icon Sportswire

Zero-for-25.

The Ottawa Senators’ power play has been blanked the last 10 games. The man advantage hasn’t been successful since a Ryan Dzingel goal in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers.

In Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Senators were awarded four power plays. Their first came after Ian Cole was called for roughing Bobby Ryan at 19 minutes, 34 seconds in the first period. Cole was called again, this time for interference against Zack Smith at 3:17 of the second period. Later that period, the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice, which was served by Scott Wilson. The Penguins were called for that same offense at 19:23 of the third period and again it was served by Wilson.

The last penalty gave the Senators’ power play an opportunity for redemption when it mattered most.

After falling behind 3-0, Ottawa showed signs of life when Clarke MacArthur scored at 18:22 of the second period. Ryan led his team into the offensive zone and stickhandled to create some time and space for his teammates to set up. MacArthur was able to tip Ryan’s shot past Matt Murray to get the Senators on the board.

The Senators closed the gap in the third period. Erik Karlsson’s shot from the blue line was deflected home by Tom Pyatt, and suddenly it was a game despite their shortcomings on special teams.

Then came the golden opportunity to tie it in the final minute of play. The Senators had already pulled goalie Craig Anderson and were on a 6-on-5 advantage when it was expanded to a 6-on-4 with the penalty. Although the Senators created chances, they ultimately were unable to score.

While neither team was successful in scoring with the man advantage in the first two games of this series, the Penguins have been more successful in capitalizing on their power plays. In Game 3, Sidney Crosby, assisted by Phil Kessel and Mark Streit, scored the Penguins’ only goal while on the power play. In Game 4, Crosby also scored on the man advantage to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Winning a Stanley Cup without the strength of a decent power play is possible. The 2011 champion Boston Bruins had a woeful success rate of 11.4 percent. The Senators’ power play is operating at 11.5 percent this postseason, which is the worst of the four teams remaining. The Penguins’ power play is at 22.4 percent.

It is possible for Ottawa to persevere without it, but it does put them at a greater disadvantage.

As much as the Senators acknowledge their power play is not where it needs to be, it was an issue in the most dire seconds of Game 4. Although that power play was condensed to 37 seconds, had they scored they would have forced the game to overtime and potentially extended their series lead to 3-1 – one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.

With the Penguins’ 3-2 win, the series returns to Pittsburgh tied 2-2 as the pressure mounts for Ottawa against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Each time the Senators have gained a series lead, the Penguins have found a way to tie it.

The Penguins have been more resilient, which was one of the Senators’ greatest assets earlier this postseason as they found ways to come back to win games. Now they are lacking effectiveness on the power play. If the Senators are missing what got them to this point, they are only deepening their status as the underdog and straying from the strength that propelled them to the conference final.

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