Monday, May 20, 2013


Never Say Never, Sens Fans

The Ottawa Senators entered the last minute of play down by the only goal scored in the game, up to that point. Erik Karlsson, the brilliant young Senators defenceman, was sitting in the penalty box, allegedly for slashing. He and Matt Cooke were duelling for the puck, when Cooke’s stick broke. Hardly a slash.

Nonetheless, the Senators were forced to play shorthanded for the remaining minute of the game, and the Penguins positioned themselves accordingly. One man chased the puck in the Senators zone, while the rest of the troops positioned themselves along the blue line. Sens goalie Anderson headed to the bench as the puck entered the neutral zone. 

Once it crossed the blue line, Daniel Alfredsson split the defence and headed for the net. Michalek’s pass was right on the money, and Alfie tipped the puck over Vokoun’s shoulder to tie the game with 29 seconds remaining.

The Penguins got on the board earlier in the game when Matt Cooke flipped a pass to Tyler Kennedy in the slot. It was partially deflected, but still ended up on Kennedy’s stick. He made no mistake with a wrist shot that beat Anderson cleanly.

Then, in the second overtime period, just past the five minute mark, the Penguins’ Matt Niskanen was sent to the box on a questionable tripping call, somewhat embellished by the actions of Michalek.

I have always maintained that teams must bear down after killing penalties. Too often, they let down their guard, exhale deeply, and say, “We’re glad that’s over”. But the penalized team still needs to make adjustments following the kill, and they are still at a disadvantage. Such was the situation facing the Sens, and they took advantage.

Half a minute after the penalty expired, Colin Greening scored to give the Sens the victory.

Shots on goal were almost even during the game, with the Pens holding a slight edge. Anderson summed up his team’s performance following the game. “We weren’t getting rewarded for our effort in games one and two. Tonight we just stuck to our game plan.”

Jason Spezza returned to the Sens’ lineup after missing most of the abbreviated season. He had back surgery in January, and was not expected to play until next year. There is no question that his presence inspired the team, and he played really well, all things considered.

There was shock and disbelief on the faces of the Penguins’ players after the game. Team Captain Sidney Crosby summed up his position after the game. “Win or lose, you have got to make sure you turn the page. If we come with the same effort, and find a way to execute, we’ll give ourselves a chance. It’s unfortunate Ottawa was able to tie it up so late in the game, but we had our chances too.”  

Game Four is set for Wednesday night in Ottawa. The Sens will naturally carry some momentum into that game. That can be erased quickly, and they know it. But a win would tie the series, and send it back to Pittsburgh on even terms. It the becomes a “best of three series”. Anything can happen. Just ask Alfie!

James Hurst
May 20, 2013

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