TO BE COMPLETELY HONEST, THIS IS WHAT I HAD WRITTEN IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES OF REGULATION:
The Ottawa Senators skated with the Pittsburgh Penguins and stayed even with them for 39 minutes. It was a very frustrating final 21 minutes at Ottawa couldn’t find the elixir to solve Tomas Vokoun, or even too many situations, to force him to make a save. The epitome of the frustration of the Senators and their fans came with over 8 minutes left and the 4 officials on the ice all missed a blatant Matt Cooke slash to the face of Erik Karlsson.
When the dust had settled, Tyler Kennedy‘s goal with 1:07 left in the second period was the difference as Tomas Vokoun recorded his second shutout of the playoffs to give the Penguins a commanding 3-0 series lead.
CUE THE “WAYNE’S WORLD/ HOLLYWOOD REWIND/ DREAM SEQUENCE MUSIC
SHAME ON ME, BECAUSE, YES, THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED:
Then, while killing a penalty in the final minute, Daniel Alfredsson knifes in and deflects a Milan Michalek pass over the shoulder of Vokoun to send the game to extra time. Colin Greening was the hero, scoring 7:39 into overtime to get the Senators back into the series, now just trailing 2-1 instead of being in the insurmountable 3-0 hole that they were 30 seconds away from falling into.
The first period got off to a better start for the Senators in front of a partisan crowd. The first period was scoreless, with Pittburgh having the better scoring chances for the most part, but Ottawa set the physical tone, with big hits from unlikely sources like Sergei Gonchar and Andre Benoit. Ottawa killed off the first penalty of the game with Craig Anderson standing tall, while the insurgence of Jason Spezza provided some offensive depth and overall confidence in the Pittsburgh end. Erik Karlsson also seemed to be skating better, and despite taking a late penalty that would carry over to the second period, it would have to be considered a winning period for Ottawa, to be scoreless through 1.
To compound Ottawa’s concern, they took a too many men on the ice penalty and gave up a 59 second 5 on 3. The trio of Colin Greening, Chris Phillips and Erik Karlsson killed it off admirably, aided by a trio of incredible saves by Anderson. They continued the penalty kill and successfully shut down the rest of the Penguins man advantage. Ottawa gained momentum after a Sidney Crosby penalty, and they maintained that through much of the period. Most of the play was in the Penguin’s end of the ice, at least until the dying minutes. The crowd was brought to its feet by a big hit by Marc Methot on Matt Cooke, but then moments later was silenced when a turnover resulted in Tyler Kennedy in the slot alone with the puck. Kennedy’s well placed shot beat Anderson and went off the cross-bar and in to open the scoring with 1:07 remaining.
The third period was not as action packed as the first two, as the Penguins did their best to clog up any shooting lanes and make things difficult for the Senators. they succeeded for the most part, and Ottawa helped them out by shooting high and wide as many times as they hit the net. Then just when you though it was over, as stated above, Alfredsson donned his cape and extended the game with his shorthanded marker with 29 seconds remaining.
The first overtime was ridiculously exciting, with numerous scoring chances from both sides, but both Vokoun and Anderson stood firm. Excuse the lack of more detail, but at the edge of your seat there isn’t much room for note-taking. The second overtime saw each team have to kill a penalty, and then Colin Greening backhanded home a rebound off Benoit’s shot to make the roof fly off the building in Ottawa.
- As frustrating as the officiating was, the Senators were their own worst enemy. Too many shots that went nowhere near the net resulted in too many offensive zone.
- And now to address the officiating. While twitter was abuzz over the incompetence of the officiating most of the night, in my opinion it wasn’t over the top until the missed call on Cooke. The call in OT on Phillips had to be made although you could argue that Cooke was hooking Phillips as much as Phillips was holding Cooke’s stick. In the end, this game won’t be showing up on the highlight reel at Officiating School this summer.
- After being the only forward without a point in the first round, Greening now has goals in 3 straight games in the second round, none more important than this game winner.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Without a doubt, going into the series Craig Anderson was going to have to steal a game or two if Ottawa was going to be competitive and make it a long series. That is exactly what he did on Sunday night, making 49 saves for the win.