This is the game which we weren’t hoping it would happen. All season long the team exceeded expectations, and just when things started looking up the team met the adversary they couldn’t overcome. The series had been plagued by poor starts and defensive zone errors that led to turnovers and goals and tonight we so no different. The Penguins took the series win on home ice in a resounding fashion.
When the game started out, it certainly looked promising. This was one of the best starts Ottawa had had all series long. Sure it was no Shorthanded goal, but the team was playing as a team with solid possession. Then some sloppy play turned it all around. A puck off the skate of Brenden Morrow would give the Penguins an early 1 goal lead. While some could argue the puck was kicked in, we’ve seen this play all year long. Forward momentum does not equal kicking and that was the ruling on the ice. It was a call that has gone our way in the past, so it was only a matter of time until we were on the other side of the coin. Despite the early goal, all things considered the period came out fairly evenly. Craig Anderson looked comfortable after last game, and the team started buzzing toward the end of the period.
Starting the second Ottawa avoided the fate they had previously fallen into. No overly early goal scored. A Jean-Gabriel Pageau interference call would put the Penguins on the power play, and as we all know, that is incredibly dangerous. With not much time remaining on the power play, James Neal finds his way through a crowded crease to a barely visible puck and jams it home. Five minutes later on a 4-4 play, Kris Letang receives the puck high in the circles and roofs the puck on Anderson. All the sudden a game that was being played close, is getting out of reach. With the Senators a second fresh off of a power play of their own Milan Michalek takes a Kyle Turris feeds and gives the Senators a whisper of a chance, making the game 3-1.
Wtih the period winding down JGP began turning on the jets and putting some increasingly solid pressure on the Pittsburgh defenders. Unfortunately, as sometimes tends to happen, the offensive mind gets away from the game as a whole. Holding on to the puck a second longer than necessary, Pageau falls victim to Evgeni Malkin who walks in on Anderson and puts one home with 30 seconds remaining in the period.
The third period was a penalty parade. While it didn’t result in any power play goals, it did stop the Senators from getting any momentum. Half way through the period James Neal would put home his second of the night, putting more pressure on the Senators to pull out the smelling salts. The season for the team was fading fast at this point, which was never more evident than when Kyle Turris fired a shot home minutes later. Sneaking it passed Tomas Vokoun, Turris had maybe a fraction of a second celebration before getting back down to business. With the game now 5-2, the game was still out of reaching, but maybe getting closer. With 3 minutes remaining all hope drained from the Senators bench. Neal puts home his 3rd of the night, sealing the series with a Hat Trick.
– Holding On Too Long: Much the same way the series started, it looked tonight like the Defense was just holding on to the puck a fraction of a second too long. This was compounded by the Wingers on the boards doing the same thing. The defensive zone exit that Ottawa had been turning around, returned to its old for and that bit the team hard.
– No Goal Support: While the defensive zone turnovers crippled the Senators, the lack of offensive production did nothing to help the team climb out of their pit. With Pittsburgh averaging 4 goals a game, the team couldn’t rely on their typical shut down beast mode goalie this series.
– Beyond Expectations: This series didn’t end how we all wanted. As fans we always believe our team has it in them to take the whole thing. This is year 2 of a rebuild that has seen the Senators in the playoffs both years. It has seen them advance to the second round and fall to a team of undeniable All-Stars. This is only the beginning and a loss like this is a brilliant opportunity for the younger players to learn exactly what it takes to step up your game in the playoffs.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
OTTAWA: Kyle Turris. Turris went 11 and 6 in the Faceoffs this game. Set up Michalek’s goal and got one of his own. While I’m sure its not the way he wanted his series to end, he played a great game.
PITTSBURGH: James Neal. Much like when Sidney Crosby showed up in Game 2, Neal showed up tonight. He had a stellar game, and had me beyond frustrated watching him. He has a brilliant ability to find clear ice and that was on full display tonight.
That’s it for this year. All in all, I think we can all agree it was a great year, and for that, a stick tap to everyone in the organization. The team has a lot of recovering to do and hopefully we come back all healed up and ready to compete in a brand new Eastern Conference.
So this is where we say farewell to the 2013 Ottawa Senators. Once again defying all expectations and making every member of Sens Army proud. So whether you’re #Pesky, #lalala, #BigBootyPoppin’ you’ve been there all year with them, and will be there next year when the puck drops. And to the Pittsburgh Penguins? Good luck boys. You’ve got Iginla, get him a cup this year.