The Ottawa Senators staved of elimination with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third overtime of Game 5.
Matt Carkner’s, that’s right Matt Carkner, point shot which deflected off the body of a Pittsburgh player found its way into the net to send the game back to Ottawa on Saturday.
The game was the second-longest in the history of Mellon Arena (Philadelphia’s Keith Primeau scored in the fifth overtime to beat the Penguins on May 4, 2000) and third-longest in Penguins’ history.
Pascal Leclaire, who made his first start of the playoffs, made 56 saves in the win, making a number of game saving stops in the overtime periods.
You would off thought it was Game 7 by the way both these teams were playing in overtime. Neither team was taking risks as both were reluctant to break the game open.
Pittsburgh clearly wanted to end the series tonight based on the passive aggressive style they played for most of the overtime periods.
Meanwhile for Ottawa, they knew a track meet could not be won against the fire power of Pittsburgh and they elected to keep the pace of the game.
Sidney Crosby had two points, including the short live go-ahead goal in the third, adding to his league leading 13 points in the playoffs.
Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Mike Fisher all had two points each for Ottawa who will try to be the first team since 2004 to comeback from a 3-1 series deficit (Montreal vs. Boston)
Pittsburgh was the better team in the match-up tonight but it was the strong play of Leclaire that made the difference.
Leclaire became the odd man out after injury and Brian Elliott’s stellar play which resulted in the former Blue Jacket playing in just 10 games since the new calendar year.
However, Elliott’s poor play in the first four games of the series prompted Coach Cory Clouston to roll the dice and put in the 26-year-old.
Analysts were saying Leclaire would have to stand on his head tonight for Ottawa to win the game and sure enough, he did just that.
Ottawa had a goal dis-allowed earlier in overtime after it was ruled the puck was kicked in by Nick Foligno.
Meanwhile for the Penguins, they can point to their poor start as a result of them loosing this game. Ottawa got off to a quick 2-0 lead and the Pens seemed content on heading back to Canada for Game 6.
When the Pens did pick up their play, they were able to build a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. A lead they would promptly give up as Peter Regin scored a minute and half later to tie the game.
Overall, the team did not play a full 60 minutes and they were still the better team which speaks volumes of the talent Pittsburgh has. They were never able to win Game 5 in the playoffs last year which could be a mini jinx the team could have, if you believe in that.
The Penguins do play better hockey away from home and will try to end the series once again in Game 6.
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Written by Amit Mann