Sunday, January 18, 2009

Damn: Habs 5, Sens 4 (SO)

It was an exciting game, at any rate, and the Sens did end up coming out of it with one point. That, however, is small consolation when I've had my hopes so high for so long.

I guess that's my own fault, though.

Still, through it all (if you watched the whole thing), the Senators kept us entertained. The Sens came out pretty strong in the first, but ran into penalty troubles early. It was a combination of the team playing precariously on the edge, and some weak calls. I don't like to blame refereeing, and I won't, but some weak calls--particularly Jason Spezza's second consecutive penalty, a slash on Andrei Kostitsyn mere seconds after A-Kost had blatantly tripped Dany Heatley, which was followed just eight seconds later with another weak penalty (to Daniel Alfredsson, no less) that set the Sens on the wrong side of a 5-on-3 that the Habs capitalized on--really set the Sens back. Ottawa had six penalties, and Montréal only had two; that wasn't the true case, if you measured actual infractions in the game.

Nonetheless, it happened, and the Sens were on their heels for a time. But a little more than four minutes after Alex Kovalev scored the first goal of the game, Chris Kelly replied to tie the game, and keep Sens fans in the game for the moment. The goal was resultant from some very solid board work on the part of Jesse Winchester (whose strength is in the trenches, and could stand to get back to it more often) and a nice pass from Jarkko Ruutu.

A-Kost scored a semi-weak dribbler a couple of minutes after Kelly, and late in the second Matt D'Agostini scored thanks to some weak coverage, and the Sens were down 3-1 and it looked all but over. The Sens got something they haven't gotten a lot of this season, though: A good break. A failed Habs pinch brought about a a 3-on-1 for the Sens, and Heatley "looked away" Jaroslav Halak while breaking down on his off-wing, and just snapped a wrister far side.

Then the Senators had to deal with something they've seen all too much of this season: A weak goal against. Tom Kostopolous fired a snapshot that Brian Elliott got a piece of, but not enough, and the Sens were back down two goals. After that, though, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Sens' big guns went out and took charge. Heatley scored his second of the game with assists from Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, and later on Mike Fisher fired one hell of a slap shot (I knew it would be lethal if he would just hit the net) thanks to another oh-so-unexpected pass from Chris Neil (two sick set-ups in two games? Where is this from, Neiler? Keep it up, though). We were off to overtime, and then a shootout, and the Senators' continued their shootout struggles.

I'm not going to rag on Elliott. In fact, I think I'm going to give him a pass all season. It's not just because he has Casey Jones painted on his helmet (but how freakin' awesome is that), I just think the kid's been thrown into a circus, and he's already done better than either of the other two goalies have done. He allowed two weak-ish goals, sure, but he also made two sick breakaway saves to keep the game from getting out of hand really quickly. Judging by body language, those saves were more inspiring than the weak goals were deflating. It seemed, at times, that the team was actually playing for one another; the skaters knew that Elliott deserved better than an uninspired loss, so they picked it up and salvaged something from the game, at the very least.

It wasn't a win, and it's all the more disappointing that it wasn't a win because it was against Montréal. Still, it had some good signs, and it's five of a possible six points in the last three games. At least there's that. Bring on Washington on Tuesday.
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