Final Score: Ottawa wins 8-4
Ottawa goals: Havlat (3) on a great move down the right side and into the middle, Redden (1, pp) on a top shelf blast while walking in from the point, Eaves (1) after he and Alfie worked and hit their way to a successful forecheck and turnover, Havlat (4) blasts it coming off the left side off that beautiful backhanded outlet pass from Redden, Vermette (1) knocking in a rebound from Varada's shot from the half boards, Heatley (1, pp) on a tic-tac-toe 5-on-3 pass from Spezza from Redden, Chara (1, pp) on a bizzare play off a Tampa defenceman where the puck just bounced over Burke, Vermette (2) earning his keep on the top line with his second of the night.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Schaefer, Fisher, Havlat, Redden, Chara, Neil, more
Not much Sens(e): Alfie, but no worries here.
It was over when: Vermette's first goal officially iced this game and the third period was just a formality.
It was definitely over when: Neiler earned his spot by suckering Chris Dingbat into seven minutes of penalties in the third period when the Lightning were mathematically still in the game. We scored two powerplay goals over that span.
Message in a Molson Bottle: The mistake for the poor Lightning here is they tried to play a physical game against us when the score was spiralling out of control. We will always win a physical game against these guys and when we play a tight, sound game and keep all five guys in the same zone, Tampa will just have no room to start up their attack. To all those panicking people back in Ottawa, take another look at the scoresheet from last night and then make a decision if you are going to cheer for this team or continue to look for similarities to our previous teams. These guys are for real.
Courtesy Boxscore #1: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006042520
Courtesy Boxscore #2: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260425020
Grab a Timmy's double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st Period - Heroism
For anyone that still questions what terms like 'team unity' and 'sportsmanship' and 'values' mean, take a long look at Wade Redden's performance last night. Direct from a family tragedy, Redds turns in a 1st star performance in all three areas of the ice. He puts up three points, uses the body behind Emery, and shows us again why his outlet pass is so important to our team's offence. Mucks, please make this guy a Senator-for-life. His maturity and leadership are setting an example for the excessive number of rookies and young stars in our lineup - we shouldn't take for granted the effect of his style on their futures. Congats to Wade on what would be considered an amazing performance on an ordinary night and is all the more special given his circumstances.
2nd Period - Monkeys
There are two kinds of monkeys in the playoffs - the proverbial monkeys and the actual monkeys. If you play in the NHL long enough, your back sometimes becomes targeted for one of this little proverbial fellas as they latch on to you for a few seasons and bring you down and create bad press and angry fans. We are slowly exorcising these monkeys off of our backs, most recently with goals from Chara, Redden, and Heatley. The Pizza Boys are starting to put up points and we're winning physical games. Monkey be gone. In terms of actual monkeys, I am slowly growing a passionate hatred for Martin St. Louis. He is very talented but very annoying and plays the role of mini-pest too well. If I were Zdeno, I would slather him with bbq sauce and...well, you know where this is headed. Sorry, coach, I can't play tonight, it's da mini-Lightning.
3rd Period - Turtles
Rarely do hockey fans love when a player turtles in a fight. But rarely do hockey fans see that performance result in a seven-minute powerplay. If you were like me and beginning to wonder what Chris Neil's role would be on this team, you needn't do more than watch him in last night's game throughout his shifts. He had a handful of Lightning chasing him around the rink, he had Dingman getting kicked out of the match, and he had a photographic grin on his face. If he wasn't given a third star at the game, let me give him that honour now. His performance was playoff-esque on its own, but important to remember is that it also sparks the rest of the lineup. We have guys on our team that have played a lot in the playoffs and then we have the opposite - those that are playing for the first time. Classic performances like Redden and Neil in this game send a great message to these kids about raising your game and keeping your self-discipline. Neil adds to that lesson. Now we just have to find someone to centre is line with Varada. Can McGrattan win a draw?
Overtime - Loblaws Express Lane (10 items or less)
1. Fear not Alfie's performance thus far. I know he isn't our best player so far, but that should be comforting to fans to know that the best of Alfredsson is still in his pocket. At some point, Havlat might slow down and Redden might slip up. That's when we will see Alfie take the game into his own hands. Hear me now, believe me later - Alfredsson will be the NHL playoff scoring leader.
2. Tampa's big three had 3 points and were a minus-5. Our big three had 8 pionts and were a plus+2 (Alfie).
3. Did Vermette look great on that top line or what? With Kelly injured again, let's hope Murray keeps this talent up there and continue to stress team play so that this line isn't a defensive liability out there.
4. I love the 'all five guys in the same zone' style of Bryan Murray. All five are in Tampa's zone at once on the forecheck, or all five guys are in the neutral zone and slowing down their forwards, or all five guys are in our own end helping with the backcheck. Beauty. The rule of thumb here is that the losers have to adjust - we adjusted and won. Your move, Torts.
5. Check up daily and forward to your friends - we need visitors!
Thursday at Tampa, Saturday in Ottawa, Monday in Tampa (if necessary), Wednesday in Ottawa (if necessary). All games at 7:00pm