The Ottawa Senators have used the slogan of Family to inspire them in the post-season and it emphasizes not just the strong ties to the Ottawa community or the camaraderie in the locker room, but the fact that they need to be a real team to win. Ottawa needs everyone; they need goaltending from Andy, they need their stars, they need their D-men to step up and get involved on both ends of the ice and they need their gritty fourth liners. They got it all in a 3-2 overtime winner at home, as they even their series with the top-seeded New York Rangers 2-2.
Kyle Turris got to be the game hero with his first ever playoff goal an overtime game winner. After several thwarted attempts right in front of the crease, Turris was finally awarded with a big goal which should definitively silence the Rundblad trade critics. Michalek and Spezza combined for a goal in the second period, and Gonchar broke the power play curse with the second goal of the game to tie it up.
The game didn’t start well. The first period was marked by a boarding penalty on Zack Smith and a power play goal mere seconds in from Stralman. The refs set the tone of the game early with soft calls, a sure indication that the NHL wanted to see some control. Smith’s boarding wasn’t a particularly hard back check, and Karlsson’s trip looked more like a question of positioning. All of this would have been fine, were it not for a big miss in the second when Staal got away with ramming Spezza’s head on a breakaway. The argument that both large men were playing low and that the head hit was an optical error is ridiculous. Had it not been for Gonchar’s goal seconds later, things would have gotten ugly.
The Sens overcame a two goal deficit and frustrating battles to get shots on net to come back in this game and win. Throughout the first, it looked like Ottawa couldn’t buy a goal with all the bad bounces and Lundqvist’s solid play. In some ways, though, they did it to themselves by not shooting enough at the net. I’m convinced that not even the National Rifle Association has said to shoot as many times as I have over the course of a game. The Sens were guilty of passing too often, hesitating to get set up and missing all their opportunities.
Ottawa is taking a lot of punishment in this series, battling hard down low in front of the net to get good positioning and taking a few cheap shots while the refs aren’t looking, as well as delivering a few of their own. Ottawa’s confidence is clearly coming back and good on Maclean to stay on Spezza like he’s a kid who hasn’t done his homework. And good on Ottawa to not let the frustrations mount and get the better of them. They’ve clearly demonstrated that they can compete with New York and an even series will make things very interesting on Saturday night. As long as it remains a family affair.
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.