Thursday, May 11, 2006

Living to skate another day

Maybe you’re a grinder, maybe you’re a sniper, but you’re stayin’ alive, stayin alive. Fast moving tender, crushing defenders, you're stayin' alive, stayin' alive! Ah, ah, ah, ah, Stayin Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiveeee.

(Yes, I realize I may be showing my age here!)

So maybe they had Saturday Night Fever as the pre game movie, Alfie doing his Travolta imitation in the Buffalo end of the rink, whatever the motivation, the Senators staved off elimination and sidestepped the dance of a thousand questions for at least a few more days.

With their backs to the wall and a deep, deep, deep hole to climb out of (double points, for double cliches!), Ottawa’s hockey warriors began the slow crawl back into contention in their playoff match up with the Buffalo Sabres.

Backed up by a stellar performance from Ray Emery, the Sens took an early lead, surrendered it (a bad trait they may wish to avoid in the future) and then retook it once again, they finally played a complete game in their own end, clearing the zone and making sure any rebounds were directed far away from their goaltender.

Emery turned aside 29 shots on the way to the 2-1 victory, a performance that gave the Sens the confidence they needed to take back one of the three losses they’ve tallied up to Buffalo so far this series.

Brian Pothier scored in the first period to give the Sens an early lead, which held up until the second period when the Sabres Daniel Briere tied the game up and sent Senator’s fans hearts up into their throats once again. In that second period the Sabres looked destined to close off the series with a four game sweep, they peppered Emery with shot after shot, at one point putting 15 shots on Emery compared to one directed towards Ryan Millers direction. Emery held off the storm, giving his team mates the boost they needed to get the direction of the game back their way.

At 2:52 of the third period Wade Redden broke through the Miller armor and put the Sens ahead for good with a bouncing shot that changed directions a few times while it traveled through the screen in front of the Buffalo net.

From that point on the Sens managed to keep the Sabres off the score sheet and claimed their first win in what they hope will be a best of seven series.

Have no doubt, they still have their work cut out from them, and it’s rare for a team to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. But with one win under their belts now, the Senators will be approaching game five with much more confidence.

They now know they can defeat this Buffalo team, a chance to redeem themselves in front of their own fans comes up on Saturday night at Scotia Bank Place.

Ottawa finally looked like the team that won first place in the East, they need to keep up that pace and continue with the game plan that brought them success on Thursday.

It’s a slow hard climb back into the hunt for Stanley, but the Sens showed they were not just going to roll over and call it a year.

A team is never more dangerous than when it sits on the edge of elimination, the will renew their battle on Saturday, with a few lucky bounces and some solid play they’ll be coming back next week for a series winning game seven contest at home.

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