Crosby helps Penguins light up Sens in 2nd as elimination looms

OTTAWA -- With a wildly offensive second period straight out of the 1980s, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins moved within one victory of advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Crosby had four points, including two of Pittsburgh's five goals in the second, leading the Penguins to a 7-4 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night and a 3-1 series lead.

Crosby assisted on Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal 11:50 in, the only score of the first period.

Crosby scored two of Pittsburgh's three goals in a 2:25 span early in the second. Matt Cooke scored 12 seconds after Crosby's first goal to make it 3-0, and the Penguins' 22-year-old captain added his fourth goal of the series at 6:12 to chase Brian Elliott.

"I feel like I'm creating things," Crosby said. "That's what I want to do and the puck's gone in."

Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists and Maxime Talbot had a goal and an assist as the teams combined for eight goals in the second, one short of the NHL playoff record for goals in a period.

"This was by far the wildest game I've been a part of in the playoffs," said Kunitz, who won Stanley Cups with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh last season.

Jordan Staal scored in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for his third straight win.

Sergei Gonchar had three assists for the defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins, who need one more win to claim their second first-round series win over Ottawa in three years.

"It's tough to battle back when you give up that many goals early on in the game, especially when you're playing against a team like them," Senators coach Cory Clouston said.

Matt Cullen had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza each had a goal and an assist, and Chris Neil scored his second.

"Today was probably the first time where I felt like we got away from our game plan a little more than we have trying to catch up," Alfredsson said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot and gave them too many odd-man rushes and easy goals."

Elliott stopped 15 of 19 shots. Pascal Leclaire made 20 saves after coming on in relief in his Senators playoff debut.

"We didn't make good on their turnovers and they made good on our turnovers," Clouston said. "When we turned the puck over it was in the back of our net, and that's what good teams do. They capitalize on your mistakes and right now we're not capitalizing on their mistakes, or enough of them, and we're not forcing them to make enough mistakes."

Game 5 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Malkin scored his fourth goal to put the Penguins up 1-0 when he beat Elliott with a shot from the right faceoff circle.

Crosby made it a 2-0 lead 3:47 into the second when he shot past Elliott on a partial breakaway. The details of Crosby's goal were still being announced to the crowd of 20,014 when Talbot set up Cooke for his first goal at 3:59.

Leclaire drew cheers when he came on to replace Elliott after Crosby beat the Ottawa starter for the second time in 2:25 with a shot from the right side.

Neil made it four goals overall in 3:23 when he slipped a backhand under Fleury's outstretched right arm. Alfredsson drew Ottawa within 4-2 with his first of the playoffs at 10:59.

The Senators captain was winding up for a point shot on the power play moments later when play was stopped when a check by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik dislodged a pane of glass in the right corner.

Talbot made it 5-2 with a short-handed effort at 12:38 on the same power play. Talbot outhustled Cullen and reached out with his stick to tap home Craig Adams' pass from the left side.

"They were pushing and pressing and they're a team that never stops working," Talbot said. "They're in their building and they obviously wanted to come back so that was a big momentum goal for us, and these are the goals that we've been able to come and get."

The Senators drew within 5-3 on the ensuing 5-on-3 when Spezza sent a cross-crease pass to Cullen, who fired a shot past Fleury at 13:19.

Crosby got his fourth point of the game, his 11th in four games, with an assist on Kunitz's first goal at 18:11 which made it 6-3.

"I still think we can improve and I think the second period was a good example of that," Crosby said. "We did a lot of good things early on in the second. We kind of let them back into it and sat back and you can't afford to do that at any point, no matter what the score is. So you try to learn from that but I think we did a lot of good things that allowed us to get that lead so we want to build off of that."

Game notes
Two teams have scored a combined total of nine goals in a period twice in NHL playoff history, most recently Los Angeles (5) and Calgary (4) in the second period of the Kings' 12-4 win at the Forum on April 10, 1990. ... Penguins G Brent Johnson was back in uniform as Fleury's backup after missing two games because of illness. ... RW Jonathan Cheechoo made his Ottawa playoff debut, replacing Ryan Shannon in the lineup. Cheechoo, a former 56-goal scorer with San Jose, finished the regular season with Binghamton of the AHL.