Matt Carkner is the hero in Ottawa, at least for tonight, as his goal in the third overtime of Thursday’s game kept the Senators alive in their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The goal forced a sixth game in the Eastern Conference series and gave the Senators some much-needed confidence, marking the longest game in Senators franchise history in the process and second longest in the history of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena.
“Three overtimes and we knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty goal,” Carkner said. “I think it deflected off someone – I didn’t even know how it went in – but it’s just a great feeling right now.”
The name of the game for the Senators is toughness, with guys like Carkner and Chris Neil making statements all over the ice. They may be considered underdogs against the Penguins, but the team is proving that they’re capable of giving the defending champs something to worry about.
In forcing a sixth game, the Senators get to return to Ottawa and get to take on the Penguins on their home turf. It’ll be a difficult matchup, to be sure, but the crowd will be off the chain and the Senators will be pushing harder than perhaps ever before.
“There’s a lot of belief and trust in this room,” said the Senators’ Matt Cullen. “We maintain a positive attitude and good feeling in here that we’re still in it.”
Head coach Cory Clouston deserves a lot of the credit right now, as his resolve and belief in his team has kept the energy good in the room. He was tasked with repairing a lot of reputations this season and managed to make something work out of a situation many thought impossible. Now the Senators look renewed and ready to rock, so Clouston deserves more than a few rounds of applause.
But the series isn’t over and the Senators still have an uphill climb. Regardless of the belief in the room and the team, it’s hard to battle back. They may have earned themselves a stay of execution for the time being, but Ottawa will really have to continue to grind the Penguins down if they hope to win the series.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.