Not exactly seventh heaven

The modern-era Ottawa Senators have never won a Game 7. Here’s how the previous contests played out.

Not exactly seventh heaven

The modern-era Ottawa Senators have never won a Game 7. Here’s how the previous contests played out:

1997: Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final to Buffalo

It was their first playoff appearance after four dreadful seasons as an expansion team, and the Senators actually had a chance to close out the series in six games. At home. But they dropped that game with a thud.

Ottawa fell 3-0 to the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 — “We knew it was going to be a long series,” then-captain Randy Cunneyworth said — as Sabres goaltender Steve Shields recorded the first shutout of his NHL career. “We need to bounce back with a huge effort in Buffalo,” young Senators winger Daniel Alfredsson said after the game.

And the Senators did bounce back, with Game 7 going into overtime. They were undone by a turnover at the red line, though, and eliminated when Sabres forward Derek Plante beat Senators goaltender Ron Tugnutt for a 3-2 series-clinching win.

2002: Lost Eastern Conference semi-final 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs

Again, Ottawa had a chance to close out the series at home in six games, and again, there was failure. The Senators took a 2-0 lead on the Leafs in Game 6 on quick strikes from Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson. And with the Leafs hobbled by injury, it looked like the Senators would be advancing to the conference final for the first time in franchise history.

And then Ricard Persson made an appearance.

The 32-year-old journeyman, filling a spot vacated by the injured Zdeno Chara, drove Tie Domi into the boards from behind, drawing blood. Persson was assessed a boarding major and a game misconduct. The Leafs scored twice on the power-play, en route to a 4-3 win to force Game 7.

That loss deflated the Senators, and they fell flat in Game 7, losing 3-0 in Toronto.

2003: Lost Eastern Conference final 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils

Ottawa raced past the New York Islanders in five games, and then beat Philadelphia in six to reach the conference final for the first time. The Senators lost three of the first four games against the Devils, but rallied, forcing a Game 7 when Chris Phillips scored in overtime to win Game 6 in New Jersey.

The deciding game was tied at 2-2 heading into the final minutes in Ottawa. The Senators won an offensive zone faceoff, but the Devils soon recovered. New Jersey forward Grant Marshall carried the puck inside the Ottawa zone along the boards — somehow drawing the attention of not one, but two Senators defenders — and slid a pass to Jeff Friesen, all alone in the slot. Friesen scored. The Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup final.

It’s real hard to find the words right now,” Phillips said. “I’m still in shock. We had all the momentum and they get the goal.”

2004: Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs

Ottawa centre Mike Fisher scored 107 seconds into the second overtime period of Game 6 to force a deciding Game 7 back in Toronto: “We’re alive,” Fisher said, “and Game 7 is going to be tougher.”

He had no idea.

Joe Nieuwendyk gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 on a snap shot from the sideboards that somehow beat Patrick Lalime. Niewendyk did it again, just for good measure, in the final seconds of the first period, sneaking a shot from the wing past Lalime for a 3-0 lead. Toronto went on to win 4-1.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Lalime said. “You know? You want to win and you want things to go good every night. I guess that we’re only human and [we] made some mistakes.”

— Sean Fitz-Gerald, The National Post

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