Sunday, February 15, 2009

No Surrender: Sens 5, Wild 3

(That sure would have been a nice game to have on TV; thanks a lot, CBC. You're real champs. One of these days, I ought to check one of the the live streams available for untelevised games, such as those regularly on The Senate Committee. Oh well, not many games this season have been worth it. Live and learn.)

Does everyone else remember this team? You know, the one from late 2006-07 that was exciting to watch, and--even after going down 3-0 to a defensive juggernaut like the Minnesota Wild--didn't stop pushing and used their offensive firepower to bully their way back into the game and win it? I remember this team now, although I'd almost forgotten it. I remember how much fun it is to follow.

On Saturday, the Sens went down 3-0 in the first period as Brian Elliott allowed all three goals on 12 shots, and was yanked in favour of Alex Auld. The first goal was a bit weak, the second was likely stoppable, but the third was a complete defensive breakdown and Elliott had little to no chance. Still, he was yanked--probably to wake up the team as much as in reflection of his play--and Auld was solid stopping all 17 shots he faced for the rest of the night.

On the offensive side: Five different goal scorers; Hello, secondary scoring. Two goals from defencemen; Hello, offence from the defence. Brian Lee started the comeback with a wrister from the point, Antoine Vermette brought the Sens within one thanks to a pass from Chris Kelly, and Chris Phillips scored the nicest goal of his freakin' career on a short-handed two-on-one rush. Streaking down the left side with Daniel Alfredsson carrying the puck on his right, Phillips received the pass around the hash marks, cut in front of Niklas Backstrom, and tucked a backhander between Backstrom's legs. I'm pretty sure Backstrom thought he was going to shoot all the way, just like everyone else did--but Phillips surprised us all and, according to post-game interviews, surprised himself too.

It was a tie game going into the third, and Jarkko Ruutu took an early interference penalty to give Minnesota a chance to go ahead. Instead, Ottawa parlayed another short-handed two-on-one with Alfredsson and Mike Fisher coming onto Backstrom, and this time the captain elected to shoot and, although Backstrom got a piece of the shot, it trickled in anyway. Dany Heatley got his thrid goal in two games into an empty net.

We've also got Vermette on a run right now, with 5 points (3G, 2A) in that last four games, for nine goals on the season. It's nowhere near the 20+ goals and 50+ points that was expected of him, but it's a needed and appreciated approvement from the point of view of Sens fans.

Anyway, wow. I saw the Sens were down 3-0 early on a scoreboard ticker, and I figured that the Cory Clouston bubble had burst; it was fun, but not going to last. Then the team had their most impressive comeback of the season, and ended up winning their fourth in a row, the first time they've strung together such a streak in over a year. It sure is nice to look forward to reflecting on a game, rather than dreading it.

On a completely unrelated note, has anyone ever watched Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi on Rogers 401? What a fun thing to do. I recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity next time it's available, even (especially?) if you don't understand Punjabi.

(EDIT: Oh yeah, and anyone who's keeping track of the Bruce Springsteen song-title contest between this blog and Black Aces, you've now seen the following: No Surrender, Workin' on a Dream, and Prove it all Night here with Jeremy countering with Hungry Heart, Glory Days, and Radio Nowhere. Good times. Any song requests? I hope Springsteen writes a song called 'Sens win the Stanley Cup' soon so we can both use it.)
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