With some slight luck and a bounce or two, the Ottawa Senators could have a 2-1 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens this weekend. It’s not hard to imagine, considering games on Friday and Sunday went into overtime. Instead, the Senators trail the Canadiens 3-0 and are on the brink of elimination. On the bright side, if there’s any team in the NHL that is capable of overcoming a 3-0 deficit and winning four straight games to take the series, it’s the Ottawa Senators.
Friday night’s game in Montreal started off in promising fashion for the Senators. Clarke MacArthur, who has been fantastic since his return from a concussion late last month, scored late in the first period to give Ottawa a slim 1-0 victory. Unfortunately, Ottawa continued to struggle in the second period, as familiar foes P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty scored to give Montreal the lead. A nice individual effort by Patrick Wiercioch tied the game at 2-2 late in the third, forcing overtime for the first time in the series. Early in overtime, a flubbed pass by Eric Gryba eventually ended up on the stick of Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk made no mistake squeezing it through the arm of goaltender Andrew Hammond. While the series easily could have been tied at 1-1 heading back to the nation’s capital, instead the Canadiens took a convincing 2-0 series lead.
Coach Dave Cameron decided to cede the starting reigns to #1 goaltender Craig Anderson, now fully healthy. This decision can only be judged by the win and loss column, as both goaltenders give the team a chance to win night in and night out. Hammond played well in both previous games, but with the Senators in desperate need of a win, it is the coach’s prerogative to try to find any spark he can. There is limited flexibility with regard to skater selection (though Chris Neil also slid in for Alex Chiasson), so making the switch for the talented and time-tested Anderson was not without merit.
Game three on home ice started in much the same regard as game two. Clarke MacArthur took advantage of P.K. Subban’s wayward decision to hit Erik Karlsson instead of playing defense to give the Senators an early 1-0 lead. The Senators survived the second period, but the narrow lead could not hold all game long. Late in the third period, Dale Wiese jumped on a rebound to tie the game at 1-1. For the second straight game, extra time was needed to find a winner. An odd bounce off the stanchion midway through the extra frame ended up on the stick of Dale Wiese, who put a short-side wrister past Craig Anderson. And so the series stands with three wins for Montreal, zero for Ottawa.
Every improbable comeback starts with one win. Are you ready to be loud and proud on Wednesday night as the Senators battle to overcome the odds yet again?
Title image courtesy of senators.nhl.com