Friday, May 05, 2006

Sabre rattled

The key to success it would seem is rather simple; if you have the lead hold on to the lead. It’s a key that is going to need a little work on the side of the Senators.

For Ottawa the lead was theirs five times and five times the Sabres answered the call and reclaimed the even ground, as the clock ticked over into the first Overtime the Sabres struck and took the lead, in both the game and the series.

Celebrating Chris Drury’s goal at 18 seconds of the first overtime period, the Sabres took game one from the Ottawa Senators 7-6. A fire wagon, end to end kind of game which the Sabres matched step for step.

The Sens at times seemed on the cusp of taking charge of the game and running away with it, they certainly had more than enough chances, they crashed the Buffalo end of the rink and came close time and time again to get a two or three goal lead on the Sabres. But Ryan Miller held the fort and the Sabres counter punched quite effectively.

It was a highly entertaining game, one which as it turned out would live up to the old saying last shot wins. With Drury’s overtime marker it was exactly that.

Drury’s overtime heroics almost never came to pass, The Senators were carrying a 6-5 lead into the final seconds of the third period when disaster struck, Tim Connolly put the tying mark past Ray Emery with only 11 seconds to go in regulation time. It capped a wild final few minutes of the third when three goals were scored in the dying moments of the third.

Ray Emery was not sharp giving up 7 goals on only 23 shots, but without any real tangible help from his defensive corps on the night and sudden forgetfulness on the part of the forwards and their back checking assignments, you couldn’t really pin the loss on the goaltender.

As Bryan Murray put it at the end of the game, the Senators were far too sloppy for a game one, second round playoff match. Murray said that Emery had a rough night because the Senators offered him no protection. Which you can read as offering a bit of protection to a rookie goaltender suffering probably his worst game of the playoffs thus far, but there was certainly some truth to his statements as well.

The Senators got caught up in the wheels away style and neglected to do what they do best, push the puck into the offensive zone and then control the boards and choke off any attack up the ice. The Sens made far too many errors on the ice, sloppy play in the end caught up to them and provied the Sabres with the opportunity to win, which they took full advantage of.

The Sabres were full value for their win, anytime you can come back five times to tie a game and then claim victory in an overtime then you can say you deserved victory.

In a matter of 29 seconds over two periods of play the Sabres gained home ice advantage in the series. It’s up to Ottawa to regroup now, get back to their style of play and take back that advantage for themselves.

If game one is any indication this is going to be a wild series to watch, not so good for coaches but a beauty for the fans!

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