Ottawa 1, New York Rangers 2

Ottawa’s season ended tonight in a game that mirrored the entire series–close, tight-checking, and determined by goaltending.  The Sens did not put together a full sixty-minutes and it wasn’t until some late line juggling that they started to take over.  Ottawa needed Anderson to step up and he did, but they also needed production from Spezza and Michalek and that didn’t happen–the young players were fine tonight and not the reason for the result.  I thought Silfverberg struggled to start the game, but was excellent in the third period.  Gilroy was invisible, but actually played better than his defense partner (Phillips).  Despite the result it has still be a great season for Ottawa and if they did one thing it was illustrating how vulnerable the Rangers are in these playoffs.  Random thought, but if there’s one thing the CBC seems to never grow tired of its shots of Mark Messier watching the game–I have no idea why viewers would have any interest in that.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
It was a nervous start for Ottawa through their first two shifts, but the third line (NeilSmithGreening) pushed back.  Anderson made a big save on a 2-on-1.  A Turris shot deflected just wide.  Anderson got bumped and nearly gave up an empty-net goal when it wasn’t called.  Karlsson had a great chance when Girardi tipped his slap-pass towards his own goal.  Karlsson made a couple of great plays in the offensive zone.  Anderson made a great save off Gaborik in tight.  Alfredsson got in close, but the Sens couldn’t get the find the loose puck in time to get it on goal.  The PhillipsGilroy combination struggled down low.  Karlsson got drilled trying to make a play in the slot.  Spezza drew the first penalty (I feel a little sympathy for Dubinsky because similar plays were ignored in the period).  Kuba had the best chance in the first minute of the powerplay, but couldn’t get his shot through; Phillips had a great chance in the slot.  Smith had a chance late.  Overall the period was very tight and pretty even.  Silfverberg looked a little confused in limited ice time.
Second Period
The Sens got running around in their own zone to start the period.  Alfredsson had a great chance off a Spezza rebound.  Rangers opened the scoring off a Foligno turnover.  After fumbling around with a number of turnovers Spezza had a chance in close.  The Rangers added to the lead on a defensive breakdown as Spezza doesn’t back check leaving Girardi wide open in front.  The third line drew a penalty on the following shift.  The first unit couldn’t accomplish anything, although Greening and Michalek had a 2-on-1 towards the end of it (but the former couldn’t make the pass), but the second unit (Alfredsson) scored in short order.  Spezza came close to tying it off a sweet pass from Karlsson.  The teams then clogged up neutral zone, but Smith came close and Richards fired a shot over the net.  Kuba took a penalty during a scramble in the Sens zone.  Anderson made a great save just before the period ended.  Overall the Rangers controlled the period.
Third Period
The Sens kill off the rest of the powerplay, but Anderson nearly gave up a goal as he baubled a rebound.  Spezza turned it over and Anderson hds to make a stop on Gaborik.  Ottawa took a penalty shortly thereafter (Cowen), which I think was called to even up the advantages.  Michalek had a golden opportunity all alone in front short-handed (courtesy of an Alfredsson steal).  The Rangers had no chances–a credit to the PK.  Anderson made a great save on Dubinsky in close.  Anderson made a save off an accidental deflection by CowenFoligno had a great chance but couldn’t beat Lundqvist high.  By this point MacLean had put his lines in the blender, and the combination of GreeningSpezza-Silfverberg had a great shift.  Michalek had a fantastic chance when that line came out next, missing the net on another chance;  Turris had his shot right in front deflected over the net (on the same play).  The frenetic action continued with Smith just missing the backdoor play on a pass from Kuba.  With the net empty Turris tipped the puck just wide on the exact same backdoor play (also from Kuba).  Gonchar took a penalty preventing Hagelin from scoring on the empty net and the Sens aren’t able to get control for another chance on goal.  The Rangers dominated the first half of the period, Ottawa the second.

Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Rangers, Staal
Foligno turns the puck over, Cowen decides to make a hit leading to a 2-on-1 and Gonchar can’t block the pass
2. Rangers, Girardi
A 3-on-3 turns into a 4-on-3 as Spezza doesn’t back check leaving Girardi wide open
3. Alfredsson (Phillips, Gonchar) (pp)
A point shot beats Lundqvist short side

Top-performers:
Craig Anderson – he had no chance on either goal against
Erik Karlsson – was far more involved tonight in all areas of the rink
Daniel Alfredsson – the only Sen to score tonight

Players Who Struggled:
Jason Spezza – MIA when it mattered and a lazy backcheck cost them the winning goal
Milan Michalek – he was good defensively and had a number of scoring chances, but he has to bury those chances
Chris Phillips – the big rig lead the team in turnovers

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