Last night, the Senators hosted the Washington Capitals who are the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. Not only did the Sens count on beating the Capitals, but they placed their hopes on the Maple Leafs to beat the Boston Bruins, which did not happen as they fell to them in overtime. Given last night’s results, tonight the Sens, who are sitting three points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, will have to go back to Toronto and make their provincial rivals pay for not helping their Canadian cause.
Ottawa @ Toronto
Having beat the Caps in overtime, 4-3, the Ottawa Senators’ playoff dream still survives. Sen’s Kyle Turris scored the OT winner on an overtime breakaway giving Ottawa the crucial victory which allows them to keep pace with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in the fierce battle that is ensuing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. On the OT winner Turris told reporters, “I was a little gassed at the end of a shift, and I was just trying to get enough speed through the neutral zone to put myself in position to where I could get a good shot off and not be caught.”
Counting last night, the Senators now have 92 points, three behind the Bruins, Red Wings and surprisingly the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have one game in hand on the Bruins who have three, while the Red Wings and Penguins have four remaining. Those 2 points were big ones as Senators coach Dave Cameron said, “Huge two points, It’s the time of year where all that matters is the two points. Doesn’t do any good anymore to play good and lose, you’ve got to find a way to get it and we found a way tonight.”
Last night, against the Capitals it was another necessary win, but it didn’t come easily. Troy Brouwer tied the game with 4:12 remaining. Marcus Johansson had a momentum turning goal in the second period against Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, who now has the best starting record for a goaltender in the NHL at 17-1-1.
The losing team’s coach, Cap’s Barry Trotz said of the Sens: “The run that the Senators have gone on, and also what Andrew Hammond has done, is pretty incredible. Nobody has done that before. That’s the great thing about the underdog or sports. You never know who is going to be the hero, who is going to be the difference maker and what they’re going to rally around. It’s all good. It’s all good stories. In the NHL, you’re always looking for great stories, and that’s one of them.”
It was another case of Senators late-game magic, as the Capitals almost stole the game away from the Sens who were leading in the first half of play, but Washington stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to send the game to extra time and make it a nervous situation for Ottawa fans. Toronto didn’t help out the cause either by losing to Boston in OT.
So now they will have a chance to punish their cross-province foes and get the two points if they play their game and not lose sight of what they need to do tonight. About the upcoming match up, former Leaf, Clark MacArthur said the Sens had to put the blown lead out of their minds as they focus on the final four games of the season. “We’ve got to forget it,” he told media postgame. “It’s something we’ve obviously got to be better at. It’s just a confidence thing.”
That confidence will come in handy as the Leafs took a valuable point away from the Sens, on March 28th when they were in Toronto, losing 3-4 in OT. It was a close game, and tonight’s can be expected to be the same. Earlier last month on March 21 they were able to dominate the Leafs, winning 5-3. They will need another stellar performance to beat a team that loves being a thorn in the Senators’ side.
If the Sens want to add another chapter to this historic playoff run, then they’ll have to win tonight, and knowing what’s at stake – it’s what can be expected.
Our Pick: Senators over Maple Leafs