Monday, April 19, 2004

Stayin' alive 

It was a Wide World of Sports kind of weekend for the Senators. The agony of their game 5 loss was followed by the thrill of their game 6 double-overtime victory.

Mike Fisher potted the winner 1:47 into the second overtime and it couldn't have happened for a more deserving player. Throughout the series, as always, Fisher is a constant driving force. He's the one guy who (with Alfredsson for the most part) never takes a game off.

However, it never would have made it to a first overtime, let alone a second, if not for the goaltending in this game. Ed Belfour was his usual self, stopping 35 shots in regulation. Patrick Lalime, while not as busy, was no less spectacular. He made a number outstanding stops, including a couple on the early 5-on-3 disadvantage (but alas could not react in time to a deflection off Pothier's skate on that same SH) and a pair of stops in the dying seconds to prevent a mass heartbreak.

Lalime said before the playoffs that his best was yet to come. He wasn't kidding.

For quite a while, the game looked to be following an all-too-familiar script. Sens pepper Belfour, Belfour stops everything, Leafs score fluke goal, Leafs score insurance goal on odd man rush while Sens press. It took some improv from the big man to get a rewrite. Moments after flattening Joe Nieuwendyk, Chara came from behind the net, spun and snuck a shot in the short side.

Pandemonium. We finally had something to go crazy about, and crazy we went for most of the rest of the third period as the Sens pressed. Defibrillators at our sides, we weathered a late Leaf flurry of chances and set ourselves for OT.

A third intermission was a new experience for me. I hadn't been to a playoff OT game before and it was strange to be waiting through another intermission. With al the anticipation, it felt much longer than a normal intermission even though it was 2 minutes shorter.

The first OT flew by - 3 cheers for no TV timeouts - with some good chances for both sides.

During the fourth intermission, we went for a walk around the upper concourse to stretch our legs. I was struck by how people were sitting against the walls, like they were settling in to weather a long night. In one spot, a dozen or so fans in full regalia formed a gauntlet of high fives and flag waving. Spirits were high.

With the way the Sens had played, especially since Charas goal, I was confident of a win, yet wary of a potentially lethal mistake. I was especially wary when the Adventure Pairing of Pothier and Volchenkov stepped on the ice. While it's unfair to say they were bad, they made me reach for the defibrillator more than once.

In the end the puck came across the crease and we all jumped in the air, whipping our towels in a frenzy.

Game 7, tomorrow night. I don't know if I can take it, can you?