Monday, April 24, 2006

Bolts just seemed to want it more

They battled back from an early set back, refused to fold under the Ottawa attack and by playing some hard hitting and fast paced hockey Tampa Bay brought their series back home to Florida tied at one apiece with the Eastern Division champions. Memories of their third period collapse of Friday long forgotten as they outskated the Sens for the puck and knocked the puck lose in the corners to generate those key scoring chances one of which they used to their advantage. Most important stat of Sunday’s third period was the shot totals, Ottawa managed but two shots in the third frame as Tampa claimed a 4-3 victory over the Sens.

The way the Sens came flying out of the gate in the first period, one would think this was going to be the soul crusher game, a quick goal early by Bryan Smolinski in the first on a rush from Daniel Alfredsson sent the Scotiabank crowd into a joyous mood as it seemed the Sens had found a groove and were ready to roll. Only problem it seems is that somebody forgot to tell the Lightning things were done, the Bolts battled back nicely through the game, evening up the first period marker with a goal from Martin St. Louis after a turnover in the Ottawa end. Instead of taking the play to the Lightning after that first goal, the Sens fell back into a bit of sloppy play letting Tampa get back into the game, an invitation they took full advantage of by the time the game ended.

Ottawa appeared to be back in control as the third period started spotting a 3-2 lead only three minutes away and the knowledge of history of Tampa success in Ottawa which has been fleeting, Tampa had lost nine previous games in Kanata prior to Sunday’s victory. But the celebration over Peter Schaeffer’s goal that made it 3-2 was a short lived affair, as Dan Boyle scored a clutch goal in the third to tie things at three, fifty five seconds later at 6:19 of the third Martin St. Louis struck again, scoring the fourth and eventual winning goal.

From that point on rather than sit on the lead and tempt fate, Tampa kept the pressure up hemming the Sens in their own end and disrupting their attack time and time again. John Grahame had another solid effort in the Tampa net stopping 21 of the 24 shots he faced, he was helped out by his defence and some stellar forechecking from the forwards something they got away from on Friday night.

Ottawa’s Ray Emery was a tad under siege in the third period and ended the game with 32 saves, many of them keeping Tampa from putting things away completely. The two teams are off to Florida for Tuesday’s game three, a new life for the Bolts and home date in a sold out rink, it makes for a bit of drama for an Ottawa team that loves to keep its fans on the edge of their seats for the entire run of the show.

Mindful of past history in Sensland, the folks will be watching their televisions with a mix of hope and anxiety, the need to take the play to Tampa and keep taking the play to Tampa is paramount to the Sens attack. Allowing the Bolts opportunity to push into the Ottawa end and set up shop, will have many of the Sens fans chewing nails like crazy on Tuesday.

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