Senators on cusp of ouster against Penguins
OTTAWA — Three games left, three wins necessary.
It's a mammoth task, one that the Penguins hope to quash as early as Game 5 on Friday night at the Consol Energy Center.
And judging by Wednesday night's effort, which included a third-period Ottawa collapse, it might be nearly impossible.
The Penguins were better pretty much everywhere on the ice, beating the Senators, 7-3.
Don't sell the Senators short, though. It's a team that's proved doubters wrong all season, a team that went into rebuilding mode just two seasons ago, a team that wasn't supposed to make the playoffs, a team that certainly wasn't supposed to be still standing in Round 2. There certainly doesn't appear to be any quit in the Eastern Conference's seventh-seeded team.
“Lose, we're done. We'll start with one shift at a time, period to period,” Senators winger Chris Neil said. “We'll put this one behind us, regroup and come out and be better next game.
“We know we can beat them. Just because they have a bunch of superstars doesn't mean they're going to win the Stanley Cup. If you work as a group, you can beat them.”
Going into Wednesday's game, Ottawa had outscored its opponents, 14-1, in the third period. That, of course, took a big swing in the other direction as they couldn't match the Penguins' speed or peskiness.
“They capitalized on their chances; they got a couple of bounces, and they have guys that can bury the puck,” said center Jason Spezza, who hit the post with a shot that could have been a momentum changer and would have tied the game, 3-3, in the second period. “A close game turned into a blowout pretty quick.
“We have to park this one after tonight. We had a chance to tie this series up and look forward. We have to re-focus — not look at the big picture, be shortsighted and just try to win the next game.”
Truth is, their season may soon be over. But they won't go down without a fight — busting their butts to each loose puck, playing with a commitment that defines the character that's being shaped.
“I don't think there's much going for us, and maybe that's the way we like it,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose third-period goal was his 100th career playoff point. “It's a frustrating night, and we're just going to have to go to Pittsburgh to bring one more game to this building.”
Tim Baines is a freelance writer.