Kukla's Korner Hockey
On the morning of March 13, the Pittsburgh Penguins were 15 points clear of the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings.
Who would have possibly thought that less than a month later an encounter between the two clubs Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre would be deemed life or death for each?
-Pierre LeBrun of ESPN on the big game tonight. More from LeBrun on Pens/Sens...
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
The Senators' "tragic number" is four, meaning any combination of their lost points or points gained by Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh adding up to that digit kills their run.
The Senators, who lose all tiebreakers, need to either win out and hope that one of the above stumbles home at 1-2-0 or 1-1-1, or else take two-of-three and count on the Bruins, Red Wings or Penguins taking no more than one point from the final six that remain on each of their tables.
Naturally, Ottawa's best bet is to finish 3-0.
"We have to keep going, keep fighting," red-hot goalie Andrew Hammond said in the visitors dressing room at ACC. "There's three games left, one week left in the season, and it's up to us to get ourselves into the playoffs."
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
“We need to worry about ourselves, we can’t be scoreboard-watchers,” rookie 20-goal scorer Mark Stone said. “We just need to bear down, win our game on Tuesday and go forward from there.”
Karlsson said the Senators have been facing each game for the past several weeks as the most important of their season, and their upcoming showdown with the Penguins is no different.
“Same mentality,” Ottawa’s Norris Trophy candidate said. “They’re still a good team and they’re on the brink, as well, and they’re going to bring out their best. They’re a well-established team and we’ve got to play our best to have a chance to win.”
If the Senators lose to the Penguins in regulation, Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot and Ottawa moves to the brink. Elimination could come as soon as Wednesday, depending on how the Red Wings and Bruins do.
Until it’s over, though, the Senators are confident about their chances heading into Tuesday.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Now after a dominant performance in Detroit – despite the tight result, the Senators outshot the Wings 34-17 – here is the situation: The Sens are three points behind the Bruins. They have a game in hand, but the Bruins have the tiebreaker with more wins in regulation and overtime.
Ottawa’s schedule down the stretch: Tampa Bay, Washington, at Toronto, Pittsburgh, at New York Rangers, at Philadelphia.
Boston’s schedule down the stretch: at Detroit, Toronto, at Washington, at Florida, at Tampa Bay.
“I think we can do it,” MacArthur said. “I have a good feeling about our team. We’re going to lay it on the line and see what happens. We made a great push. We shouldn’t even be in this position, and the guys stepped up. Obviously Hammy’s a big part of that.”
Obviously he is. Hammond, a.k.a. ‘The Hamburglar,’ has fans throwing McDonald’s onto the ice because he has come out of nowhere to go 15-1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and two shutouts. Two seasons ago, he was wrapping up a four-year career at Bowling Green State University. Last season, he played for the AHL’s Binghamton Senators – except for one 11-minute relief appearance with the big club. Now this.
from Ian Mendes of TSN,
What a difference a week makes.
Last Monday, the Ottawa Senators beat the San Jose Sharks and climbed past the Boston Bruins and into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The confidence was at an all-time high. The city was alive with a buzz that is usually only reserved for the playoffs.
But as we sit here today, the Senators – and their fan base – appear to be an emotionally fragile group. Three consecutive losses will tend to do that.
So what happened to the uber-confident Senators who went on one of the greatest runs in franchise history? There are a few theories floating around as to why Ottawa's playoff bubble has burst. The answer probably lies with a combination of all five of these answers, but here's a look at the top reasons why the Senators have probably lost three games in a row – and their mojo at the same time:
The Senators look like a shell of the team that stormed back with four third-period goals against San Jose last Monday for a convincing 5-2 victory. In the three games since, Ottawa has looked tired, flat and tentative – and that's being as polite as possible.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The Senators will wake up Tuesday morning where they wanted to be.
And, where so many never believed they would be.
There may not be any stopping Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond and the Senators now as they bit back at the San Jose Sharks by scoring four unanswered goals in a third period comeback to move ahead of the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard playoff spot at No. 8 in the East with a 5-2 win.
The Hamburglar made 29 stops and is an incredible 14-0-1 as the Senators extended their streak to seven straight wins to move one point ahead of Boston as Mika Zibanejad scored twice while Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also chipped in front of 18,193 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Yup, the burgers were flying with Ottawa 15-1-1 in its last 16.
Fourteen points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 8, the Senators have done the unthinkable in this remarkable run.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The door is open Monday night for the Senators to end up in a spot they haven't seen since late-November.
Officially back in the playoff picture.
A victory over the struggling San Jose Sharks at the Canadian Tire Centre will push the Senators one point ahead of the Boston Bruins in the standings with a game in hand after the Bruins took it on the chin Sunday night from the Tampa Bay Lightning which leaves Ottawa one point back."
Two months ago, the Senators' playoff chances looked like they were history.
Now, they stand on the verge of making history as the Senators try to move their winning streak to seven straight after a 5-3 victory over the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday at home.
from Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen,
At times it felt more like dodging a bullet than vanquishing an old foe.
But the Senators got it done, surviving a Battle of Ontario scrape with the Toronto Maple Leafs to keep Ottawa’s prospective march to the playoffs rolling along.
The Senators, who entered the game two points behind Boston for eighth place, have won six straight and 15 of their past 18 games. Ottawa’s win, combined with the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss in Florida, pulled the Senators to within a single point of Boston with a game in hand.
“We’re not in the playoffs yet,” Senators head coach Dave Cameron cautioned in the jubilant aftermath. “We’re still on the outside.”
But inching closer.
Cameron was pleased with the first and third periods. As to the middle one, “we took a bit of a nap,” he said.
Asked what he barked at his troops during a shaky second, Cameron said: “Wake up!”
The Senators also have a game in hand on the Bruins.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Bring on the Bruins! That's what the Ottawa Senators are saying after yet another victory, this time 2-1 in overtime against the Carolina Hurricanes after a highlight-of-the-year setup by Kyle Turris that let to Mark Stone's game-winner.
Coupled with the Boston Bruins' shootout loss at home -- to Buffalo, no less -- the Senators are now just four points behind the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, with entering Thursday's gigantic rematch between the Bruins and Senators in Ottawa looming.
It appeared the Sens were done like dinner after last Tuesday's home loss to Boston. Yeah, right. Not when "The Hamburgler" is doing his thing. Goalie Andrew Hammond was sensational again against the Hurricanes, and is now 11-0-1 in his first 12 NHL starts and has given up two or fewer goals in each of those 12 games. Buckle up, folks, the Eastern Conference playoff race is about to get even more interesting.
continue for notes on Sabres, Bruins, Blackhawks, the Metropolitian Division and the Sharks from the ESPN hockey writers...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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