Monday, May 22, 2017

Penguins' Rowney stars in a whirlwind week


By Kevin Gorman
May 21, 2017
Carter Rowney #37 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Ottawa Senators in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
Carter Rowney couldn't contain his smile, even under his scraggly playoff beard, when the talk turned to firsts.
Rowney capped what has to be the most memorable week of his hockey career, maybe his life, Sunday afternoon by scoring his first Stanley Cup playoff points in the Penguins' 7-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.
Rowney was rewarded as the No. 1 star after assisting on goals by Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson and Matt Cullen.
“I was very grateful to have that and be able to come out here and play in the Stanley Cup playoffs and have the opportunity to help the team out,” Rowney said. “To be able to contribute on the scoreboard was surreal, something I've been working hard for.”
Those firsts ranked a distant second in Rowney's whirlwind week that started when he and his wife, Danielle, welcomed their first child, son Anders Rand.
“It's been a lot of firsts this year,” Rowney said. “That birth last week was something special, right? I don't even know if you can put into words. That was a moment you dream about, I guess.”
Rowney was worried he would miss the birth of his son — who was delivered at 10:10 a.m. on May 14, weighing 9.5 pounds and measuring 24 34 inches — if Anders arrived before the Penguins finished Game 1 or after they departed for a five-day trip to Ottawa.
“I told the baby to stay in there until after the game, and then it could come out, and that's kind of how it worked, right?” he said. “That was an unbelievable high, an unbelievable moment, something special to have my first son.”
Rowney took the road less traveled to the NHL as an undrafted free agent out of the University of North Dakota in 2013, going from signing a two-way contract worth $25,000 with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and $45,000 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL to putting the Penguins within a game of another Cup final.
“He's on top of the world,” Penguins goalie Matt Murray said. “Being a dad, I'm sure, will give you that feeling. I'm really happy for him in that regard, apart from hockey. Having your first kid, that's a pretty special moment and you can tell how happy he is because of it. It's really nice to see.”
So was Rowney's impact on the Penguins' third line, which has failed to live up to the HBK fame of last year. This time, the third line set the tone by scoring off forechecks, chasing dumps into corners and forcing turnovers.
“Our line created some chances, so it was kind of a matter of time,” Rowney said. “If you keep doing the right things out there and we'll face some chances and capitalize and get your opportunities. We got a little puck luck, and we were able to get a couple in the back of the net.”
The scoring outburst was special, considering that Rowney had tallied four assists in his previous 38 NHL games, regular season and playoffs combined. He had three assists in the first 22 minutes of Game 5.
“He's a real good player, really underrated,” Murray said. “He's solid and just does his job, but you also know he can produce. I think one of his best abilities is his ability to skate for such a big guy, and he can really hit, as well. He can create some energy and some momentum on the forecheck, and he can produce, too.
“It's really nice to see a guy like that get rewarded on the score sheet. But we know his value, and we know what he does each and every night. He's a heck of a player.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rowney, who can play center or wing, won the respect of Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and his teammates with his toughness and versatility and has become a mainstay in the lineup this series after playing in only two games against Washington.
Rowney admitted that “it's hard” to go in and out of the lineup but said he spent his scratches doing the little things to stay prepared for when the Penguins penciled him back into a regular role.
“You want to make sure you're ready because you don't want to let down your teammates,” Rowney said. “You've got to stay sharp off the ice and make sure you're focused.
“It's been something I've been looking forward to, just trying to go out there and be consistent and trying to play my game. It's been a good experience so far, and I'm just trying to take it all in.”
Like a No. 1 star in an unforgettable week.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

Senators on the brink of elimination after blowout by Penguins


May 21, 2017
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck in front of Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
It seemed the stars could not have been aligned more perfectly.
It was goaltender Craig Anderson’s birthday.
It was an afternoon game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This spring, Anderson’s Ottawa Senators had taken part in four afternoon matches and won them all – each one in overtime. May as well skip the regular time and go straight to OT.
If only the Senators could have done so.
In what will go down as their worst first period of the playoffs, if not the entire season, the Senators were down 4-0 after only 20 minutes – the Pittsburgh Penguins well on their way to a dominating 7-0 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.
“A crap game,” Ottawa forward Kyle Turris said.
“A flat-out spanking,” teammate Bobby Ryan added.
“It was humiliating to get beat like that,” defenceman Dion Phaneuf said.
Senators head coach Guy Boucher compared the surprising result to “a plumber” who wakes up not knowing if he’s going to have a good day or a bad day. This one was simply miserable as Boucher’s players leaked goals at virtually every turn.
The loss could prove pivotal, as the Penguins now hold a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series. Game 6 will be Tuesday in Ottawa; if a Game 7 is required, it will be Thursday back in Pittsburgh.
For the first time this round, the Stanley Cup defending champions look like the team that went all the way last year.
“This was one of the more complete efforts, for sure,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said.
The Penguins turned an early giveaway by Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman into an Olli Maatta goal on a long shot that eluded Anderson.
Shortly after, a Mark Stone slashing penalty put an end to an Ottawa power play and soon handed the Penguins a short run with the man advantage. Defenceman Trevor Daley took a shot toward Anderson that Sidney Crosby deftly tipped into the Ottawa net for Crosby’s seventh goal of the playoffs.
The Penguins went ahead 3-0 when, at the end of a remarkable 1:22, during which Pittsburgh completely controlled the puck in Ottawa’s end, a shot by Nick Bonino ticked off the leg of Bryan Rust and in behind Anderson for Rust’s sixth of the playoffs.
Boucher then decided to switch goalies, pulling Anderson and sending out backup goaltender Mike Condon.
After Condon had played less than 90 seconds, Boucher made another switch, sending out Anderson again while Condon went to the bench.
Whatever thinking was behind this move, it backfired almost immediately when Scott Wilson chipped a puck from the side of the net and the puck somehow bounced off both net and Anderson and into the back of the net for Wilson’s second playoff goal and a 4-0 Pittsburgh lead.
When the second period began, it was again Condon in the Ottawa net and Anderson on the bench.
Perhaps it was just the coach playing a bit of musical chairs to celebrate Anderson’s 36th birthday.
“We hung him out to dry,” Ryan said of the team’s No. 1 goaltender.
Anderson did not seem much amused. “Coach tells you to come out or go in,” he said. “You do as you’re told.”
Boucher said it was always his intention to put Anderson back, as he was switching the goalies in order to “stall” the Penguins’ momentum without taking a time out.
It didn’t work, as Pittsburgh’s Matt Cullen opened the second period by cruising unchallenged across the front of Condon’s net and cuffed a pass in for his second goal of the playoffs.
Early in the third, the Penguins power play struck again when Crosby sent a neat between-the-legs pass to Phil Kessel, all alone to the side of the Ottawa net and Kessel simply swept it into the open side for his seventh playoff goal.
Daley closed out the scoring with a blast from the point.
Curiously, before the match, Boucher had talked openly about his team’s remarkable success in afternoon games.
“I just think we come to the rink and play,” he said. “Not much to think about.”
Well, much to think about after this mess.
Three Ottawa players – defencemen Erik Karlsson and Cody Ceci, as well as forward Derick Brassard – did not finish the game, but Boucher said it was simply to rest them. Karlsson tangled along the boards with Wilson late in the second period and appeared to hurt his left foot. Previously, he had played through two hairline fractures in that same foot.
Boucher was certain his team would bounce back as it has in previous rounds of the playoffs.
“Rebound,” he said, “and get ready for the next one.”
One possible change could be the addition of tough defenceman Mark Borowiecki, who has been recovering from a leg injury and is close to returning.
“He’s the No. 1 hitter in the league,” Boucher said. “He’s a heat-seeking missile, that’s what he is. It usually puts the opponents on their heels.”
Boucher’s Senators could hardly be further back on their own heels as they headed back to Ottawa.
They may, however, need more than a “heat-seeking missile” the way the Stanley Cup defending champions are now playing.

The Penguins are back to being the Penguins, and the Sens are in trouble


By Don Brennan
May 21, 2017
Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scores a goal against Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – The weapon backfired.
We regret to inform you the patient is now on life support and is not expected to survive the week.
All that rest the Senators were able to get from days off between games didn’t help them track down the puck inside their blue line for a full 82 seconds before the resurrected Bryan Rust dug their grave a little deeper at 16:04 of the first period on Sunday.
That goal, the third in a 7-0 onslaught, matched the Penguins entire offensive production in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final.
“We were taking on some water,” Bobby Ryan said of the shift that seemed to last an eternity. “I don’t think they had many shots. But they were all over the puck and cycling, and that wears you out.”
Ryan had a chance to clear the puck, but it slipped under his foot.
“I don’t think that was the defining goal. I think one, two, three, four, five … they all were,” he said, but then admitted the third one did define the Senators game. ‘We were in our zone like that countless times. Countless times we were watching them around the outside and eventually get too tired and they take it inside and get the chances.”
The “rest is a weapon” mantra repeated by Guy Boucher throughout the playoffs had a hollow ring to it in the Senators 99th game, counting regular season and playoffs. They looked tired as well as defeated.
And no, you sure wouldn’t want to practice that power play, which generated zip in going 0-for-4 and has now blown 29 consecutive chances since Game 1, Round 2.
“It’s better than a 2-1 heartbreaker in overtime, I guess,” said Ryan. “Really, when you look at a game and you can’t say you deserved better, anywhere along the way, then it’s frustrating.
“For me, I spend about a half hour pissed off and kicking the dog, but that’s about it,” he added when asked about moving forward. “You can’t dwell on that. You can’t go home and be negative, you can’t re-watch the game and think, this was the play in the game, because there was a hundred of them. I flush it. I’ll come to the rink tomorrow, ready to refresh.”
Moments before Boucher admitted to reporters that the Penguins are the better team, Kyle Turris was singing a different tune.
“We’ve won two games against them … we were tied 2-2 going into tonight,” said Turris. “Just because they had one game that was a blowout, doesn’t mean they’re a better all-round team than we are. We feel confident that we are. We’ll have to show that next game.”
Noble sentiment, but unlikely.
The Penguins are back to being the Penguins.
The Senators will soon have plenty of time to rest.
Guy Boucher of the Ottawa Senators talks to Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators after being pulled in the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
STARTS AND STOPS: Birthday boy Craig Anderson did look pretty confident early in the first. “He’s got the cocky glove going,” noted Postmedia colleague Ken (Scooter) Warren. No, the trapper wasn’t an issue. The Penguins goals on him were scored, in order, midway up his stick side, between his body and stick side arm, low stick side and off his leg from behind the net. In other words, everywhere but his glove side … Asked by TSN’s Brent Wallace if Anderson would start Game 6, Boucher replied: “Oh my God.” When Wallace said he had to ask, Boucher said: “I know you do, but you should not.” … The Senators’ first period crumble started when Mike Hoffman missed completing a blind backhand pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau just inside the blue line. A few seconds later, Olli Maatta was triggering the attack again.
BETWEEN PERIODS: Nick Bonino had trouble getting to the rink Sunday. “It was weird,” said the Penguins centre. “All of a sudden, the gas didn’t work and the power steering went out in the middle of the highway. I was able to get to the side. Great teammate Phil Kessel came and picked me up. I owe a lot to Phil tonight for being here. A great guy.” And here you thought Kessel was something else altogether … Nobody was waiving a yellow Penguins rally towel any more vigorously than actor Michael Keaton … Just 20 seconds into the Senators first power play, Anderson was forced to stop a Carl Hagelin breakaway. And 58 seconds into it, Mark Stone was going off for slashing. “That’s #@%-ing embarrassing,” Stone yelled at the ref while slamming his stick into the glass. So is the Senators power play. …
THINGS I THINK I THUNK: Boucher seriously considered putting Colin White in the lineup, but after the rookie centre participated in his first warmup of the series, the decision was made to go with a seventh defenceman in Ben Harpur instead. “We weren’t sure who wasn’t going to be able to go,” said Boucher. “Whitey could have played.” He certainly couldn’t have hurt … The teams combined to ice the puck eight times before the game was 2-0. Then the Penguins didn’t let the Senators have the puck long enough to ice it … Sidney Crosby took pity on the Senators when he hit the post with four minutes left in the second … The Senators sure are doing a good job of easing Matt Murray back into the playoffs. When you can’t remember a goalie’s biggest save of the game, it’s usually because he didn’t make one.
BUTT ENDS: As noted by our pal Dean Brown, in games officiated by Brad Meier before Sunday, the Senators were 1-11 over the last three years but 3-0 in these playoffs. Make that 3-1 now. Meier had no impact on the game whatsoever, other than to bog the Senators down with four power plays … Also celebrating birthdays on Sunday were Senators head athletic therapist Gerry Townend (50) and former Senators centre Todd White (62) … It wasn’t all bad for the Senators – Turris won 19 of 25 face-offs, and as a team the Senators took 60 percent of the draws … Also meaningless on this day was the fact the Senators outhit the Penguins 53-28. Tommy Wingels and Viktor Stalberg tried to give the Senators an energy line by leading the way with eight and seven, respectively … I thought I saw a typo somewhere up above – oh yes, Todd White turned 52 .. And finally, these words of wisdom from captain Erik Karlsson: “From something bad comes something good usually. We’ve just got to really use that as motivation, and come out a lot better on Tuesday. Whether we win or lose, we can do things a lot better. They’re going to play a good game on Tuesday as well. We’ve got to be prepared for it.”

This Penguins playoff run is more of a collective effort


, USA TODAY Sports
https://www.usatoday.com/
May 21, 2017



Trevor Daley #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Marc-Andre Fleury #29 after scoring a goal against Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins believe they understand what is necessary to overcome their lengthy list of injuries and become the first NHL team in 19 years to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

“It is going to take a village to get it done,” Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley said.

The "next man up" approach was on display again Sunday when the Penguins rode their third- and fourth-line players to a 7-0 win against the Ottawa Senators that puts the Penguins one win short of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season. The Penguins can win the Eastern Conference final with a victory in Game 6 on Tuesday in Ottawa.

Third-line winger Carter Rowney, who finally made the NHL this season at age 27 (he turned 28 on May 10), contributed three assists and was on the ice for four Penguins’ goals. Linemate Bryan Rust, returning to the lineup after missing two games with an injury, chipped in a goal and an assist. Center Nick Bonino had two assists.

Role player Scott Wilson and fourth-line center Matt Cullen also scored. The Penguins' best offensive show of the series was carried out by players who don't usually have starring roles in that production.

“A big part of our success last year was getting all four lines going,” Cullen said. “…spending time in the offensive zone and grinding.”

The need for contributions from up and down the lineup is more critical this year because injuries have piled up. No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang is gone for the season, and Justin Schultz and Patric Hornqvist are key players still out. The Penguins have had a flowing stream of players moving in and out of the lineup. They have used eight different defensemen and 15 different forwards

Last year, the talk about the Penguins during the playoffs was about their incredible speed.

This year, it’s been more about their resiliency, and their ability to keep adding guys to the lineup who find ways to contribute.

“I've said all along here it takes more than 12 forwards, six defensemen, you know, to win at this time of year,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We've got a full complement of players. It seems like with the injuries we've had, we've had to utilize all of them to help us win games. When these guys step into the lineup, they do a great job for us.”

During the Penguins’ run last season, the spotlight was often on the big-name players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and especially Phil Kessel, who had a memorable playoff.

Malkin had three assists Sunday and leads all NHL playoff scorers with 23 points. Sidney Crosby had a goal and a dandy assist to set up Kessel for a goal. They are still difference-makers.

But this year’s run seems more like a collective effort, with more guys finding the spotlight.

Rowney spent four years playing college hockey at North Dakota and even had time in the ECHL before spending two full seasons and part of this season in the American Hockey League.

“He’s worked really hard to get here,” Daley said. “It’s a great opportunity and he’s running with it.”

Sullivan hasn’t used Rowney in every playoff game. To him, these playoffs have required a different approach. “You want to make sure you’re ready because you don’t want to let your teammates down,” Rowney said.

Counting the regular season and playoffs, Rowney had four assists in his first 38 NHL games. The fact he was able to produce three in one game is symbolic of how the Penguins’ role players are raising their performance levels.

“It makes our team so much more difficult to play against when we get the production throughout our lineup like we did,” Sullivan said. “We had seven different goal-scorers.”

The Penguins’ identity is still Crosby and Malkin. But the Penguins are far scarier when they are getting goals from players like Wilson and Cullen.

“It can’t be Sid and Geno all the time, although it usually is,” Daley said. “But when they get a little support from others (Malkin and Crosby) are even better.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Well, that was ugly: Pens pound Sens to take control


BY OTTAWA SUN
May 21, 2017
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators during the first period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — The only candles blown out on Craig Anderson’s birthday may have been the fire inside that has carried the Ottawa Senators through these playoffs.
And, now, the Senators have a hit a major bump on the road to the Stanley Cup final.
Instead of pushing the Pittsburgh Penguins to the brink of elimination, the Senators will try to avoid that themselves Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final after not even bothering to show up Sunday afternoon in a disgraceful 7-0 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champions at the PPG Paints Arena.
“It was just a crap game,” said centre Kyle Turris. “It happens. It was a crap game in every aspect. Forget about it, regroup and come back with our best push in the next game. Everybody comes in prepared and ready to go and today we were on heels and just not executing.”
It was the worst playoff loss in franchise history.
“We just got a lesson in how to play an Eastern Conference final playoff game,” said winger Bobby Ryan. “Everything we did was wrong. Everything they did was right, and they were better in every aspect of the game.
“I don’t know. The effort was abysmal from everybody. I thought the room was ready and everybody was ready in here. That’s why it’s so disconcerting.”
While it didn’t look good on Anderson to get pulled on his 36th birthday, he wasn’t the only one by a long-shot to blame. The Senators embarrassed themselves by coming apart at the seams as the Penguins poured on the offence to take a 3-2 series lead and move to within one victory of going to the final for the second straight year.
“I think they were just trying to change the momentum. They were flying, change the goalie and get something changed,” said Anderson.
Ottawa coach Guy Boucher pulled Anderson for just over a minute in the first period with the Penguins leading 3-0, put him back in, and then Scott Wilson made 4-0 for Pittsburgh. In the second, Mike Condon returned and finished the game after Anderson had allowed four goals on 14 shots.
Boucher said he was trying not to use a timeout.
“You want to keep your timeouts. You might need them later. I thought I’d just stall things and I thought I’d put him back in because he’s my man. When I saw where the game was going, he didn’t have to live that,” said Boucher.
The reality is the Senators are being beaten by a better team.
Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Bryan Rust, Wilson, Matt Cullen, Trevor Daley and Olli Maata did the scoring for the Penguins while goalie Matt Murray had an easy afternoon. Carter Rowney had three assists on a day perfect for the Penguins to pile up the points.
The power play was 0-for-4, and is now in an 0-for-29 in the past 10 games. But that wasn’t the biggest issue on this day. The Senators lack of compete had to be the biggest area of concern. They didn’t look ready from the drop of the puck. That has to change, and it has to happen quick.
Cullen gave the Penguins a 5-0 lead only 1:54 into the second after what a disgraceful first period for Ottawa.
Really, though, Boucher should have just stuck with his plan when he pulled Anderson after he gave up his third goal on 12 shots. Rust tipped Nick Bonino’s shot from the slot after the Penguins had poured it on in the Ottawa zone with only 3:56 left in the period.
The Penguins pulled out to a 2-0 lead on the power play at 12:03 as Crosby scored his third of the series. He was able to tip a Daley shot from the top of the circle past Anderson on the stick side.
A turnover by Mike Hoffman in the Ottawa zone led to the opening goal by the Penguins. Rust, making his return, picked up the bad pass by Hoffman, and dropped the puck back to Maata, who fired it by Anderson on the stick side at 8:14 of the first.
“It’s not about what it means, it’s where the players are,” said Boucher. “It’s just like a plumber wakes up one day and has a great day and another day he’s not having a great day. It’s just one of those bad days. It’s not lack of preparation.”
Are they being beaten by a better team?
“We know they’re a better team. Everybody knows that on the planet. They’re the Stanley Cup champions. That’s no secret. To beat that team we need to be at our very, very best and weren’t,” said Boucher.
The only option for the Senators is to try to stave off elimination with a win at home on Tuesday night and force a Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
bgarrioch@postmedia.com
twitter.com/sungarrioch

Pirates edge Phillies 1-0 in rain after Freese HBP


The Associated Press
May 21, 2017
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (39) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (39) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
PITTSBURGH -- Coming off two subpar outings, Chad Kuhl went into the video room to find some past success he could recreate.
Kuhl and four relievers combined on a three-hitter, and the Pittsburgh Pirates scratched out the only run of a rainy game Sunday when David Freese was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kuhl used his sinking, two-seam fastball to rack up quick outs. He allowed his only hit in the fifth inning.
"I looked back, watched a ton of video and tried to get back to when I was good," the second-year pitcher said. "It feels great to have it show up in the game -- all the work paying off. It just feels like I'm on the right track."
Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola (2-1) got back on track, as well. Nola returned from the disabled list and threw seven strong innings. The right-hander, who had been sidelined with a back injury, gave up four hits and faltered just briefly in the sixth.
Adam Frazier and Josh Harrison started the inning with consecutive singles, putting runners at the corners. Harrison stole second and, after Andrew McCutchen grounded out, Josh Bell was intentionally walked to load the bases. Nola hit Freese with a pitch, forcing in a run, before John Jaso grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"I'm not really good about getting out of the way, anyway," Freese said. "But I saw it coming and I was trying to wear it, for sure. Just get that RBI."
Philadelphia lost for the ninth time in 11 games. But the 23-year-old Nola struck out five and had thrown 89 pitches when he was removed for a pinch hitter in the eighth.
"What a breath of fresh air that was," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He looked like his old self today. That's the thing that I take out of this game that I'm really happy about. The only run scored was on a hit batsman. He looked like his old self and I'm really happy about that. That's about all I'm happy about today."
Wade LeBlanc (3-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings to win in relief. Juan Nicasio andFelipe Rivero got the ball to Tony Watson, who earned his 10th save in 11 opportunities.
Pittsburgh's bullpen has been pitching well of late, and that's what gave manager Clint Hurdle the confidence to pull Kuhl for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
"Watch the way I lean on them. It shows you my confidence level," Hurdle said. "We've got guys out there we feel very confident in giving the ball to and can get things done."
The game started on time and was never delayed but was played during a steady rain that became heavy at times.
Frazier finished 2 for 3 with a walk to increase his batting average to .369. He would rank second in the National League if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Frazier missed 18 games with a hamstring injury in late April and early May.
TRENDING
Lefties were batting .391 against Kuhl coming into the game, but he held the six Philadelphia left-handed batters hitless with a walk and three strikeouts.
TRAINER'S ROOM
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco hit off a tee and played catch Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring May 17. If all goes well, he is expected to take batting practice for the first time on Monday.
Phillies: OF Daniel Nava missed his second game with a strained left hamstring. He is day to day.
UP NEXT
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-4, 2.84 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game series in Atlanta on Monday night. Cole has compiled eight consecutive quality starts and pitched seven innings with two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three outings. He went six innings and allowed three runs against the Braves on April 9, but did not factor in the decision.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-4, 4.53) hopes to build off the momentum of his last start when Philadelphia hosts Colorado on Monday night. In his most recent outing, Eickhoff permitted two earned runs over six innings. He hadn't had a six-inning start in a full month, and his ERA rose more than two runs during that span.

Penguins carry on despite losses to D-corps


By Wayne Scanlan, The Ottawa Citizen
May 20, 2017
Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 19, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

What should present the Ottawa Senators an opportunity keeps turning into a Pittsburgh Penguins rallying point.
Playing with five defencemen due to an in-game injury. The Penguins are making a winning habit of it.
In Game 4, for the second time in this Eastern Conference final, the Penguins lost a defenceman early. Late in the first period, Chad Ruhwedel received a high hit from Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan that left him bleeding from the nose and suffering from a concussion.
Ho hum. Pittsburgh played the rest of the game with five defencemen, extending a 1-0 lead to a 3-0 lead midway through period two before the Senators rallied for a pair of goals in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win.
The Penguins return to home ice for Game 5 in a 2-2 series trying to reverse the trend of one-game winning streaks.
“It’s time for us to take two games in a row here,” said Penguins winger Carl Hagelin, at the club’s media availability in Ottawa on Saturday.
The Penguins’ blue-line, already missing key puck movers in Kris Letang and Justin Schultz, not only survived the loss of Ruhwedel, it chipped in a pair of goals compliments of Olli Maatta and Brian Dumoulin. It was Maatta’s first career playoff goal.
“It feels awesome,” said Maatta, breaking into a grin.
Head coach Mike Sullivan calls his defence corps the “unsung heroes” of the team.
“These guys just quietly go about their business,” Sullivan said. “They’re vitally important to our team and the success we’ve had to this point. They’re competing hard. We’re not a perfect group back there by any stretch but these guys are playing hard and I love their competitive level.”
In Game 2, the Penguins lost Schultz to injury and survived for a 1-0 victory.
Sullivan reiterated that Schultz and forwards Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust remain day-to-day. Schultz could return to action in Game 5, but Pittsburgh’s lineup won’t be confirmed until Sunday, prior to the matinĂ©e game.
“We’ve had so many injuries over the course of these playoffs,” Sullivan said. “We’ve lost a defenceman early in the game where we’re forced to go to five, and these guys don’t think twice. They just keep playing. And nothing fazes them back there.”
Especially with Letang out for an extended period, it’s easy to overlook Pittsburgh’s defence and focus on the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel up front.
“We have some dynamic forwards that a lot of times capture the storylines,” Sullivan said. “But these guys playing behind them are quietly doing a real good job for us.”
It helped ease the burden on the five-man defensive unit that Pittsburgh’s forwards carried the play in Game 4, keeping the puck in Ottawa’s zone for long stretches. Maatta says the D-corps loves to prove itself.
“We’re a confident group that way,” Maatta said. “We know we’re good enough to win. We have such good forwards, we just have to play a simple game.”
PERFECT PK
While the Senators continue to lament their 0-for-25 power play (over a nine-game period), the flip side to the story is Pittsburgh’s effective penalty killing.
In Game 4, the Penguins shut down all four Ottawa manpower advantages, frustrating the Senators to the point they received rare booing from fans in their own arena.
Killing penalties is not one of Crosby’s duties, but the captain admired a lot of “different things” that added up to successful kills.
“We did a good job on clears (from the D-zone),” Crosby said. “That was important. We had some faceoff wins and we were able to get rid of pressure quickly. And then, even up ice we were pretty good at being aggressive and forcing some mistakes.”
Hagelin, who found his legs in Game 4, was a force on the PK, one of the forwards who used sticks in the passing lanes to break up Senators rushes. Nick Bonino had a couple of big blocks, including in the dying seconds when Ottawa was trying to force overtime.
“We took a step in the right direction with how aggressive we were,” Hagelin said. “We did a good job of clearing the puck every time we had a chance. You don’t want to give those guys too many opportunities. Last game we took a few too many penalties. But we found a way to kill them.”
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on against the Ottawa Senators during the third period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 19, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
CROSBY WILLS IT
Sidney Crosby wears the C but it was his A game that helped doom the Senators in Game 4.
Crosby led all players with five shots on goal, had a goal, assist, was plus one and a force throughout.
Sullivan fairly sang his praises afterward and again a day later.
“He was on the puck,” Sullivan said. “He was hard on the puck. He was making plays. He was defending hard, he was inspired. When he plays that way, he’s tough to handle and he inspires our group as well.”
Considering the Penguins were Cup champions last spring and Crosby led Canada to a World Cup of Hockey win in September, it’s remarkable No. 87 has this much gas left in the tank. Sullivan attributes Crosby’s energy to a high degree of fitness, combined with a will to win.
“He’s probably the fiercest competitor that I’ve been associated with in the game, and (Friday) night was an example of it,” Sullivan said. “He’s got an insatiable appetite to be the best. He has a drive and a will to win that, in my estimation, not too many people have. That’s what separates him from others.”
Not many can emulate Crosby’s skill level, but his coach feels Crosby’s “blue-collar” work ethic tends to rub off on younger players.
Given the wild swings of momentum in this back-and-forth series, anything is possible over the final best-of-three, with Pittsburgh holding home-ice advantage. Sullivan hopes his team’s energetic play will carry over into Game 5 but he can’t be certain. Losing teams have featured strong bounce-backs in the series.
“Each game tells its own story and you’ve got to be ready for whatever it throws at you,” Hagelin said.