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NHL playoff roundup

Senators' status not healthy

Maxime Talbot was the center of attention after his second-period goal. Maxime Talbot was the center of attention after his second-period goal. (Sean Kilpatrick/Associated Press)
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Associated Press / April 15, 2008

The Pittsburgh Penguins are enjoying their chance to pay back the Senators for last season's playoff pounding.

Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, and former Senator Marian Hossa scored in the third period to lift Pittsburgh to a 4-1 victory in Ottawa last night, and leave the Penguins a victory away from a first-round playoff sweep.

Maxime Talbot scored in the second period and Hossa also had two assists to push Ottawa to the brink of elimination one year after the Senators beat Pittsburgh in five games on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.

"It was nice to finally get that first goal [this playoff season] and have a good game, especially in this building where I basically started my career," said Hossa, who was acquired from Atlanta at the trading deadline. "But the most important thing is we're up, 3-0."

Crosby got the tiebreaking goal 12 seconds into the third, stunning the Senators' crowd with his first goal of the playoffs after busting in on a two-on-one break and snapping a shot that beat Martin Gerber stick side.

"I had a good chance to shoot and found my spot, but chances are few and far between, especially in the playoffs, so it was nice to convert one there," said Crosby, who had four assists in Friday's 5-3 win.

Staal made it 3-1 just 1:18 later, crashing the net and redirecting Kristopher Letang's pass behind a helpless Gerber. Hossa capped the comeback with a power-play goal at 8:55.

Ottawa couldn't capitalize on the return of injured captain Daniel Alfredsson, a surprise addition to the lineup.

"A few quick goals like that, it's tough," said Alfredsson, who hadn't played since he suffered knee and upper-body injuries April 3.

The 35-year-old Swede was given a standing ovation when he took his first shift 42 seconds into the first period.

Alfredsson hadn't even practiced with his teammates before deciding to take the warm-up and suit up for the game. He didn't look anywhere close to 100 percent, gingerly making his way around the ice and trying his best to avoid the high traffic areas. He played 22 shifts and took four shots.

"He obviously wasn't at full speed, you could see that, but he had hands, he had a couple of scoring chances," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "If anybody questions Daniel Alfredsson's character again, I think I'll approach them in an unkind way and set them straight."

Ottawa's Jason Spezza, who injured his leg in Friday's loss and didn't practice Sunday, played 21 shifts and had an assist.

The Penguins were without Gary Roberts (groin), who scored twice in the opener.

Predators 5, Red Wings 3 - Nashville is back in the series. Detroit is searching for its lost momentum.

Jason Arnott scored with 3:58 left in the final period, the second Nashville goal in nine seconds, and the Predators rallied to beat the Red Wings and cut their first-round series deficit to 2-1.

"There's moments that are going to happen in a series that can change the whole series," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I don't know, we might have just had ours."

Ryan Suter tied the game nine seconds before Arnott's goal, putting a slap shot from the left side past Dominik Hasek, who had dominated the Predators for most of the game and the series. Martin Erat scored an empty-netter with 41 seconds left to seal the win.

Center David Legwand returned to the Nashville lineup after missing 14 straight games with a deep bone bruise on his left foot, but played sparingly and appeared to be slowed by the injury.

Wild 3, Avalanche 2 - Pierre-Marc Bouchard took the pass from Brian Rolston from behind the net and sent it past Jose Theodore 11:58 into overtime to give Minnesota a win in Denver.

It was the third straight overtime game in this first-round series, with the Wild winning two of them.

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