The post-game report: Lady Luck is wearing a Senators sweater

In the moments afterwards, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was positively giddy. Montreal Canadiens counterpart Michel Therrien looked like he had been hit by a truck.

The post-game report: Lady Luck is wearing a Senators sweater
Ottawa Senators celebrate an overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens after game four of Stanley Cup playoff hockey action on Tuesday May 7, 2013 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

In the moments afterwards, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was positively giddy. Montreal Canadiens counterpart Michel Therrien looked like he had been hit by a truck.

A truck driven by Lady Luck.

While MacLean was on the right side of ridiculous good fortune, Therrien was on the wrong side of the string of unfathomable, unfortunate events.

When the Kyle Turris shot sailed over the shoulder of Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj at the 2:42 mark of overtime Tuesday night, giving the Senators a 3-2 victory and putting the Senators on the brink of the second round of the NHL playoffs, it gave new meaning to the expression of stealing victory from the jaws of defeat; a defeat which would have evened the series at two games apiece and given the Canadiens home ice advantage in a best-of-three series.

Instead, the Senators are now in position to kick the Canadiens to the golf course Thursday, with an opportunity to rest for the second round.

The series is all wrapped up, with a bow, for the Senators to take. If the Canadiens can win three straight with either a gimpy number one goaltender or a little-used back-up in net, the Senators certainly don’t deserve to move on.

The Canadiens could very well be without number one goaltender Carey Price, who limped off the ice at the end of regulation Tuesday with a lower body injury which is believed to be related to his hip or groin. Budaj, who came into the series knowing that the only way he would see time would be if Price was down and out, came in cold to face the pressure of overtime.

Argue all you want, Senators fans, but when Therrien said his team “deserved a better fate,” he couldn’t have been more right.

They had spent the first 50 minutes bottling up and frustrating the Senators.

“It was not our best game, as far as execution, for the first two periods and then some,” understated Senators coach Daniel Alfredsson. “I did feel we got skating in the third period and were able to get some pressure.”

The Senators were down 2-0 when Lady Luck arrived.

First, she arrived in the form of a positive video review.

Mika Zibanejad made it 2-1 when Chris Neil’s pass deflected off his skate into the net. It held up following a long video review where even Zibanejad said, “it could have gone either way.”

Then came the bounces and fortunate calls in the final minute, after the Senators pulled goaltender Craig Anderson for an extra skater.

The Canadiens iced the puck twice, giving the Senators faceoffs in the Canadiens zone. On the first one, Sergei Gonchar casually went back to make sure the puck crossed the goal line. Erik Karlsson did the same on the second call. The officials could easily have opted to rule that neither player worked hard enough to avoid the icing. A few seconds after the faceoff following the second icing call, Alfredsson threw the puck in the slot. After it bounced off this, that and the other thing, it landed on Conacher’s stick. Conacher slid it under Price with 22.6 seconds left.

The building went nuts. The fans who had left early raced back from the parking lots.

And the biggest break of all was yet to come – the appearance of Budaj, and not Price, in the opponent’s crease for extra time.

“Definitely, there were some hockey gods up there that helped us out throughout that game and throughout that third period,” said Conacher. “It was nice to just get that god up there to give me that puck in front of the net. It’s not lucky. It’s a character win. We obviously can’t do that the rest of the playoffs, take a period or two off.”

When Budaj skated out for overtime, the message was to shoot. And shoot some more.

“It’s definitely a break,” said Conacher. “It’s nothing against him. He’s a good goalie, but I’m sure all goalies will know how hard it is to come in when you haven’t played the whole game. It was our responsibility to try and get as many shots as we could early and that’s what we tried to do.”

Budaj stopped the first. But not the second.

THE NUMBERS

26: Saves by Craig Anderson

30: Saves by Carey Price

1: Saves by Peter Budaj

0-for-3: Senators powerplay

0-for-1: Canadiens powerplay

61: Hits by the Senators (10 by Chris Neil)

46: Hits by the Canadiens (5 by Brandon Prust and Gabriel Dumont)

25:45: P.K. Subban ice time

28:02: Erik Karlsson ice time

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