|Posted by Radatz on May 26, 2017 at 12:00 AM|
And here we are. Game 7 in all its agony. Period by period.
The first period was even scorewise and might have belonged to Ottawa shotwise if Ottawa could figure out how to get off a shot, but largely it was more of Pittsburgh winning 1-on-1 battles, picking pucks off the boards and reacting faster to loose pucks. Ottawa seems nearly incapable of clearing its own zone, sending more passes to the point than the Pitt forwards do. But they escaped without falling behind, which may have been their strategy. Or not. What would period 2 bring? It's been a one-sided frame in many playoff games.
Through most of the first half of the 2nd it wasn't uneven at all, with Ottawa actually generating chances. Except for one ominous flurry from Pittsburgh play was fairly even, but you got the uncomfortable feeling that Pitt was playing hockey while Ottawa was playing pinball. The most effective Senator was Anderson, and it was clear that Pitt was overplaying everything because Ottawa couldn't seem to take advantage. Then they began to look for open men (who were actually skating) and started crashing the zone a bit. It wasn't sustainable, but it was something. But finally the inevitable happened; Ottawa couldn't hold the point and Pitt got a 2-on-1 close in. 1-0. Here it comes. Then an incredible 20 seconds later, at the end of their first smart-looking end-to-end rush, Stone scored to tie it. Hey Ottawa, try that when you're not behind --- just might work. Ottawa couldn't make hay out of a power play, and the period ended with each team getting a great breakin, one after the other. Ottawa had an in-alone when the stick mysteriously became unable to stay on the ice. No call; would have been a penalty shot. Then Pitt looked set up when a great hip check separated the puck and the stick from the player and the period ended --- yup --- in a tie. Is this what Ottawa wanted? Can't be what Pitt had chalked up.
The third got halfway through tied with the emphasis slowly but surely tilting toward the skating Penguins versus the passive Senators, and by the halfway point resembled a Pitt power play. Anderson was great, but then the hobbled Phaneuf took a shaky interference call on an impending icing and Pitt had a real power play. The reward came fast, and that was the old ball game. Or not. 6 1/2 minutes later, Dzingel tied it on Karlsson's rebound. Each team had chances after, the last good one coming on a takeaway by Ottawa that resulted in Ryan overpassing from 15' in front. He could have angled over and shot. Anderson continued to get pummeled and dazzle. And now, believe it or not... it was overtime. Shots at the end of regulation time were a suspiciously low 30-23 Pittsburgh. Sure seemed like more.
At zamboni time it was more of the same. The Senators had chances but overpassed their shots. They had pucks clean in their zone and couldn't clear. Pittsburgh seemed to own the boards. Yet it was still even. Dzingel had disappeared into the locker room. Ryan seemed obsessed with staying behind the net even when he had company. But Anderson held and It ended even with Pitt fans littering the ice, having seen a replay that looked like Pitt had scored. They hadn't, another angle showed the puck trickling along the top of the net, not the underside. Hard to believe they didn't show that angle in house. And on to the second overtime. Ottawa had dodged a too many men. Pitt got passes on several infractions. Pitt owned the shots 8-2, but Ottawa had 'passed' on several decent chances looking for the perfect play.
The second overtime was going oddly. Ottawa seemed to have the fresher legs, at least in spurts, and were largely dictating play. And then, barely 5 minutes in, Kunitz slapped a tumbling knuckleball high at the best goalie in the playoffs and he either didn't see it or it froze him. It was Pittsburgh's only shot of the overtime, the only period in which Ottawa outshot and outskated Pittsburgh. And just like that, Cinderella's gown went poof.
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