NHL Playoffs 2013: Breaking Down Wednesday's Penguins vs. Senators Matchup

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 17:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins prepares for the faceoff against the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 17, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL playoffs have been action packed thus far, but with only one game on Wednesday, the focus of the hockey community will be solely on the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators.

After one the wildest finish of the postseason to Sunday's Game 3, both teams are desperate for a win and will do anything to walk away with a momentous Game 4 victory.

If you deem yourself a real hockey fan, you won’t be able to afford missing a second of Wednesday’s action.


Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators: 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

Game 4, Penguins lead series 2-1

The Penguins hold the 2-1 series advantage over the Senators, but with Game 4 coming from Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, the building will be ready to explode in favor of the home team.

As well as Pittsburgh has played throughout this series—dominated the first and second games and had the third game locked up for 59 minutes—the Senators have kept the score close enough in each game to strike and did exactly that in Game 3.

The Penguins had a 1-0 lead in the waning stages of the third period when Ottawa took a penalty and put Pittsburgh on the man advantage. With the Senators shorthanded and just 30 seconds left in the game, veteran Daniel Alfredsson drove the net, found a seam big enough to exploit and put the puck behind goalie Tomas Vokoun for an amazing goal that sent the game into overtime.

The momentum shifted on that goal, and Ottawa went on to win the game in OT.

Wednesday’s matchup will determine which team responds best to the way Game 3 ended. The Penguins must realize they let a victory slip away and come out angry, using their skill advantage to spread the Senators thin in all facets of the game.

Talent only gets a team so far, though, and with the very real momentum Ottawa has created with their stunning victory Sunday coupled with the explosive fans in Scotiabank Place, the Senators must come out on fire and hit the Penguins right between the eyes.

If Ottawa pushes the tempo of the game from the opening faceoff, Pittsburgh will head home with the series tied 2-2. If the Senators rest on their laurels and don’t attack like the series is on the line, the Penguins won’t lose another game in this matchup.

Expect an absolute war Wednesday.

Predicted Winner: Penguins 4, Senators 3