The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins troubles are mounting against the upstart Ottawa Senators.
The Penguins are down two games to one in a series that they were heavily favored to win and meet either the Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators to defend their title, hardly the position that they would have expected to find themselves in.
Coming off of a hotly contested seven game series against the Washington Capitals that certainly took a toll. the Pens were shut down at home in a 2-1 overtime loss and the forfeiture of home ice advantage.
While Pittsburgh bounced back to take the second game in a 1-0 shutout, their normally dangerous offense set new standards for impotence. Were it not for the brilliance of goalie Marc Andre-Fleury it could have ended differently.
Then on Wednesday the wheels completely came off.
Fleury had a rare off night and was yanked after being shelled for four first period goals by a swarming Senators offense. While replacement Matt Murray only gave up one more tally, the hole was too deep and the Penguins went down 5-1.
— CBC News (@CBCNews) May 18, 2017
To say that game four on Friday night is a must win for Pittsburgh is a huge understatement.
While Ottawa has been playing suffocating defense, the Penguins need to find a way to break through and get the puck into the net.
They have two days to figure it out.
The Penguins need to find a way to get stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin going. Most importantly they need to score the first goal of the game, a huge factor the deeper that the games go on in the playoffs.
A failure to win game four will result in having to win three consecutive elimination games in order to defend their title. A tall order for any team let alone one that looks spent after the Penguins-Capitals series.