The playoffs are just around the corner and teams are starting to play like it. Ottawa and Pittsburgh took it one step further by playing an all-out ping pong style game, racking up goals too fast for commentators to keep up, for a 12 goal game and lots of happy pizza fans in Scotiabank Place.
You couldn’t ask for a better night out at the game with two playoff hopeful teams, one that just got back its superstar to form and another which had suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat the night before to the lowly ranked Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa’s goal scoring drought turned into an all out flood as they downed Pittsburgh for a stunning 8-4 final score.
And Toronto lost its game to the New York Rangers in a shootout shortly thereafter, a noteworthy fact because Toronto is trying to hone in on a spot and also because they’re Toronto and fans love it when their own team wins on a night that their biggest rival loses. All seems well in the hockey universe for Sens fans. It wasn’t that long ago that it looked like time to panic; with poor offense and lackadaisical defense just a few games ago, it looked like Ottawa was in serious danger of losing its 7th spot slot. Teams like Buffalo and Winnipeg have been on fire recently as well in their quest for the post-season and Washington may still steal one away. While Toronto may be a long shot at this point, there’s no resting for anyone in the last stretch as March closes down.
The fast pace of this game was excellent and Ottawa played a smart neutral zone game, keeping the Pens from breaking out in the zone. The Sens also took advantage of fantastic long stretch passes and scored beauties shorthanded, with Alfie and Spezza getting some highlight reel worthy ones. It was a team game with Gonchar, Greening, Michalek and Turris also getting on the board. Foligno played what could be his best game of the season, playing a big role in multiple goals for Ottawa as set-up man and a jumping screen on Phillips’ goal in the second.
Ben Bishop had a tough break (hopefully not literally) as he was taken out of the game in the second with a lower body injury on an awkward save. Craig Anderson had to come into the game, but he was solid between the pipes throughout for his team- it helped that they provided him with more than enough offense to keep things interesting.
While Ottawa deserves major credit for improved play and a great win, they also deserve credit for keeping this game clean. While it’s inevitable that frustration and tempers flare with the odd dust up here and there, Ottawa managed to keep the game from becoming a messy affair. It’s in their best interest to do so at this time of the year, that said, it’s not always easy to do. Some of the Pens gave the Sens a rough go of it in this game and Ottawa did well to stay out of the box for rough stuff.
All in all, a great game for Ottawa, showing that their spot in the standings is not a fluke. With a game like this in the bag, and pizza for Ottawa fans, MacLean should be treating the boys in the locker room to pizzas of their own.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.