Saturday, May 06, 2006
It will go down as one of the most entertaining, heartbreaking, bizarre and emotionally draining games in Senator history. The Sens lost 7-6 in overtime to open their NHL Eastern Conference Semifinal with Buffalo. The outstanding pre-game laser show at Scotiabank Place was largely forgotten after a night of fireworks on the ice.
Everyone on defence took turns looking completely lost, capped off by Anton Volchenkov's unforced giveaway, leading to the overtime goal that no NHL calibre goalie should ever allow.
Despite his consistent, brilliant play all season long, rookie Andrej Meseiros had one of the worst games you'll ever seen a defenceman play. The Sens were up by one goal, on the power play with 2 minutes left. It was over. You just play keep away, using the entire ice surface. But in the brain cramp of the season so far, Meseiros had no concept of any of this and made a horrible gamble at the Buffalo blue line. He pinched in to try and keep the puck in Buffalo's end. Bad enough that he failed but why he wouldn't trip, hold, slash, tackle, gouge, chop, stab and mug the guy, we'll never know. Worst case scenario would have been even strength with 1:40 left to play.
Thankfully, Brian Smolinski's goal 30 seconds later bailed him out. Briefly.
Ray Emery looked panicky on a dump-in with 20 seconds left. The puck ended up behind his net. Emery blocked the pass out front but instead of freezing it, he shoved it out shuffleboard-style to Tim Connolly who poked it in for the tying goal.
Just before the Olympics, Emery had no confidence and the team appeared to have none in him. However, he slowly got it all back with a dynamite month in March and a solid first round against Tampa. Hopefully, he and the defence can forget about that nightmare Friday and straighten things out. The Sens can take heart in the fact it's just one game of seven. They couldn't have played worse and still should have won. Win on Monday night and confidence is restored.
But that kind of a loss is the kind that can take you out at the knees. The kind that can talk you out of thinking you're a team of destiny. That was the kind of loss that adds fuel to the fire for skittish Ottawa fans who are already starting to feel cursed (Lalime in Game 7, the Persson hit on Domi, Salo giveaway to Thomas, Jeff Friesen, Plante on Tugnutt, the Rough Riders, the Expos).
That was the kind of loss we will talk about forever.
Posted by Steve Warne at 2:02 PM