Game In a Sentence: The Senators jumped out to an early lead in front of a raucous Ottawa crowd, but a poor second period from the Sens ultimately sealed their Game 6 fate, sending this series to a seventh game at Madison Square Garden.
- As a Leafs fan, I have a history of mocking the crowd at Scotiabank Place, but in all honesty, those fans sounded crazy loud tonight, and maintained their decibel level for most of the game. They created what looked and sounded like a great playoff atmosphere in Ottawa.
- Things started getting chippy in the second half of the first period, after a late Brandon Prust hit on Erik Karlsson went unpenalized. That situation was eventually diffused by a lengthy fight between Prust and Chris Neil.
- The Rangers never looked quite as desperate as you’d assume they would be in the first period, and it was the Sens who were taking the game to the top seeded Rangers. That changed in the second period, when the Rangers seemingly woke up and realized their season was hanging in the balance. Ottawa seemed to change their style of play after New York equalized, and took four penalties in an eight minute span in that second frame. It was definitely the momentum swing that would change the outcome of the game, as the Rangers scored on two of those powerplays and added a third goal with just 41 seconds left in the period.
- Ottawa came back to life in the third period and played a much tighter, more disciplined game, using their speed to draw penalties and generate some good scoring chances, but it ultimately wasn’t to be. The Rangers employed the “bend, don’t break” theory down the stretch, holding on for the Game 6 road victory.
- One of the reasons the Rangers were able to bend without breaking in that third period was thanks largely in part to the play of Henrik Lundqvist in net. Lundqvist didn’t make any spectacular saves in this game, but in typical King Henrik fashion, he always seemed to be in perfect position, and outside of Chris Neil kicking the puck in late in the third period, he never seemed rattled between the pipes. Lundqvist finished the game with 25 saves on 27 shots against.
- Speaking of the Neil kick in for the Senators’ second goal of the game, how the heck did that goal stand? Neil clearly made a kicking motion with the puck somewhat covered by Lundqvist (but definitely not trapped to the point where there should have been a whistle), and while he didn’t fully connect, he appeared to make enough of an impact on the puck for it to squeak in. Unless the officials judged that Neil totally whiffed on the kick, there’s no reason that goal should have counted.
- Another questionable no-call from the officials came on this late Michael Del Zotto hit on Neil in the third period:
After the game, Neil addressed the hit with some cryptic words: “I’m sure I’ll catch him with his head down one of these times.” Anyone think Game 7 is going to be fun?
- Jakob Silfverberg made his NHL debut for the Senators in this game. I won’t pretend to know whether or not Silfverberg deserved to play in a potential series clinching game, but I will say that I don’t understand why fellow rookie Mark Stone was replaced in the lineup just a couple of nights after what I thought was a good enough NHL debut performance. For the record, Stone finished with an assist, a blocked shot, two takeaways and a +1 rating in 8:43 of ice time in Game 5. Silfverberg finished with a shot on goal, two penalty minutes, one hit, one takeaway and two giveaways in 9:02 of ice time in Game 6.
- Lastly, I’m still a big Bob Cole fan, and think his voice is as iconic to the NHL playoffs in Canada as May sunshine is to April showers, but his “It’s the playoffs for sure” exclamation after the Neil/Prust fight may have been the most Cole-iest call ever…outside of “Everything is happening!” and “Oh baby for sure.”
- Game 7 goes Thursday night at MSG.
My Three Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist
2. Brad Richards
3. Chris Neil