What a difference a couple days make.
On Wednesday I thought I might have to recap before Ary (thankfully) volunteered. I hadn't written anything in a few days - I hadn't really been able to do anything in a few days - and the task seemed monumental, even for something as straightforward as a recap. It didn't matter that the Sens won game four or that Andy put in a memorable performance, my piece, assuming I could manage to move from the couch and start typing would have read like a eulogy.
There are times when the odds seem long and the deck is stacked against you.
The sporting analogy of how I've felt this week is of course being down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Any hope you have is short-lived, a fool's hope, quickly dashed. You never get near that game seven and a chance at equal footing. I couldn't cheer when Mike Hoffman scored or when Craig Anderson made yet another stellar save on Wednesday. It took everything in me to tweet. Yes, to tweet.
And then there are times when Alfie is in the building. There are times when you can get up and look forward to the game.
Today the task didn't seem as monumental.
Today things didn't seem so bleak. There wasn't the possibility of being swept and there was something sweater than just staying alive at stake - the very real possibility of getting in the heads of Montreal and sending the series back to Ottawa.
Game five started with a Montreal flurry but Andy was sharp from the start. Halfway through the period Ottawa started to answer Montreal's pressure. Bobby Ryan finally broke his goalless drought with a bit a floater that beat Price. After taking the lead in each game of this series, Ottawa finally took the next step and scored the Next GoalTM late in the period. Patrick Wiercioch notched his second goal of the series from a similar spot as Ryan and the Sens took a 2-goal lead into the first intermission. Shots 15-13 in favour of Montreal.
The second period has been a disaster for the Senators all series and well, was again tonight in terms of possession. Montreal dominated the frame and had several great scoring chances but Andy continued to shut the door. The Senators managed to add a power play goal when Erik Karlsson absolutely blasted the puck from the point late in the period. It was nice to see the captain score, but he looked sluggish tonight. He made a few nice defensive plays in the first period, but seemed a touch slow all night and more than a little tentative. After 40 minutes the Senators held a 3-goal lead. Shots 11-5 in favour of Montreal.
The third period got off to a rocky start for Ottawa. Montreal finally solved Andy, when Tom Gilbert's point shot deflected off Bobby Ryan's stick and by a screened Anderson. Midway through the period Karlsson took an ill-advised retaliatory crosschecking penalty, though it should be noted Dale Weiss went down quite easily. Things got a little tense on the ensuing Montreal advantage, but fortunately Ottawa was able to kill off the penalty. A few minutes later, Erik Condra put the game out of reach when he stole a puck in the neutral zone, split the Montreal defense, went in on a breakaway, and beat Carey Price with a backhand deke. After a late spearing-slashing dust-up between the horrid Brandon Prust and Craig Anderson that led to everyone finding a punching partner, Ottawa finished the game on the power play. For a little salt in the wounds 2013-style, the Senators added a fifth goal when Mike Hoffman's shot was tipped by Bobby Ryan and in for his second of the night. Ottawa wins 5-1. Shots 46-25 in favour of Montreal.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
What a night. Again. He's been Ottawa's best player in the series and has only played 3 games. Near perfect on the night, his 97.8 SV% is simply amazing. He's in the zone.
Honourable Mention: Patrick Wiercioch
Another good game from him. Solid in his own end, he added a goal and is giving Montreal something else to think about on the power play. That's a good thing.
Honourable Mention: Erik Condra
His strong defensive game was on display again but he scored on a breakaway with a rolling puck on the probable Vezina and Hart winner Carey Price. Definitely earns a mention.
Honourable Mention: Bobby Ryan
Yes, he accidentally tipped the only Montreal goal by Andy and neither goal he scored was overly impressive. However, he scored the first goal of the game, and seemed to grow in confidence instantly which is a big deal given how things have gone for him lately. I still think he's carrying a knock, but hopefully his slump is over now.
GIF: much-requested Karlsson wink pic.twitter.com/eHabjSkvBR— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 25, 2015
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick: