|Scotiabank Place pre game before game 3.|
The first two home playoff games for the Sens in a couple of years brought back a lot of memories for me. It may have only been a short time since our last post season game at SBP, but to me it seemed like forever. I've also felt a lot different watching them this year due to our underdog status, as opposed to all those years past when we were a fairly heavy favorite. It's just so much more enjoyable to watch a team overachieve and play hard. I know many of you either don't live in Ottawa or couldn't make it to the game, so since I had so much fun I figured I'd post so pictures I took on my Blackberry to give you a sense of the fun.
We begin with a pre game shot of the crowd at The Red Zone in front of Scotiabank Place before game 3. Unfortunately there was a wind warning so the beer tent was shut down, but that didn't seem to stop anyone's fun. Everyone was definitely hyped up and excited for the game. In October not many would have thought we'd make it here. Very rewarding to have the rebuild go so quickly.
|Sens Army files in to Scotiabank Place prior to game 3 vs New York|
Fans file in to SBP before game 3. I noticed that Sens Army was definitely there much earlier than in years past. This was a good hour before puck drop. Everyone was loudly chanting Go Sens Go. It's a thing of beauty to see the often maligned fan base do such a good job of showing some pride. There were a couple of Ranger fans bravely coming into the storm. They were quickly met with ridicule.
|The Sens and Rangers and warm up before game 3|
The Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers warm up before game 3. The big news was there's no Daniel Alfredsson out there. There was rumors he would play but of course ultimately didn't. The atmosphere was electric already. You could feel it. I'm not sure why, but I love seeing the white from the towels on the seats.
|The Ottawa Senators 2012 Playoff Rally Towel|
Speaking of the white towel, here's what is placed on every single seat at SBP for the 2012 playoffs. The quality on these is so much better than it used to be, but I have to ask why they don't come up with something a little more original. They've been doing this for almost 15 years already. Switch it up.
|Anthem time with the Canadian Flag prior to game 3 of the Senators/Rangers game|
And then it was anthem time just before puck drop. It was the loudest rendition of O Canada I have ever heard at SBP. The crowd was signing every word with passion and ready for the action to start. I will never get tired of seeing the huge flag during anthem time either. The people standing at centre ice were members of the Canadian Women's National Team, who were being honoured for winning the World Championship in OT.
|The final scoreboard of the Rangers 1-0 win in game 3|
And just like that it was over with a 1-0 New York win to lead the series 2-1. It was disappointing result considering the Sens took it to the Rags for most of the game. Then again you can't expect to win a playoff game when you can't even score a goal right?
Brian Boyle potted the only goal of the game, cementing his status as the least liked player on the Blue Shirts for Ottawa fans. At this point he had 3 goals in 3 games, 2 were game winners, he punched Karlsson in the face and got Carkner suspended. Now that's an eventful series. The fans came to cheer and were ready to burst with excitement but weren't able to celebrate a goal. This also made Ottawa 0-7 in their last 7 home playoff games. Yikes!
|Game 4 ticket for the Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers|
Sens Army was cautiously optimistic heading into game 4 I think. We had played well enough to be up in the series 2-1 but were behind by the same mark. There's a huge difference between the series tied 2-2 and being behind 3-1, so this was a game the Sens had to have. This is the ticket that got me into the building. Still not sure why season ticket holders got these cheap Capital Tickets tickets instead of the normal professional one's.
|Awesome Spartan hat made by a fan|
One of the reasons I love the playoffs is the passion from the fans. They always find new creative ways to show their support. There the face painting, the signs, the chants, the costumes. It never gets old to me. Just when I think I've seen it all, I see something new. Check out this guys homemade Spartan helmet. Well played sir. Even cooler was the fact that this guy was in his 50's.
|The fans celebrate Milan Michalek's goal, the Sens first at home this series|
And down 2-0 and looking out of it, the Sens finally get their first home playoff goal courtesy of Milan Michalek via a sweet dish from Matt Carkner fresh out of the penalty box. MM9 roofed the backhand to make it 2-1 and get us back in the game. SBP was pumped as you can see by the fan reaction in the photo. Game on!
|Jason Spezza heads to the dressing room after Marc Staal's headhsot|
We had just scored and things were looking up. The crowd was fired up, giving the team a standing ovation for the entire commercial break. I had never see that before ever. Everything was going our way and then this happened. Jason Spezza was carrying the puck in the Rangers zone when Marc Staal gave him a clear headshot and #19 dropped like a fly. Of course there was no penalty on the play with the ref being all of 10 feet away from it. The NHL reffing has been awful this year and the playoffs have been even worse.
|The Sens celebrate Sergei Gonchar's game tying goal|
Just a few minutes later, a Gonchar point shot squeaks through the pads of Herik Lundqvist and it was tied at 2. The crowd was electic and going nuts. The game looked over given the start we had but the Sens never gave up and battled back to tie it at 2's.
|Commemorative series puck for the Senators/Rangers series|
At the 2nd intermission I was a bit nervous about how the 3rd would play out, so I walked around a bit and went into the Sens Store. They have this series puck for just $5.99, not a bad souvenir for that price. It will become a lot better of a memento should the Sens win the series.
|The Scotiabank Place scoreboard after regulation between the Sens and Rangers|
The Sens took it to the Rangers in the 3rd, especially at the end of the frame. New York looked happy as hell for that period to end so they could hopefully regroup and steal a win. The buzzer went and we were heading to ovvvvvvvvvvvvertime! I was nervous as can be.
Is there any bigger difference in the enjoyment level of OT playoff hockey between when your team is playing or when it's just 2 teams you don't care about? When I'm watching any other 2 teams I love to watch some OT hockey. It's one of the best thing in sports. When the Sens are playing I'm sick to my stomach. Only relieved once it's over and we get the W.
|The Sens swarm Kyle Turris after he pots the OT winner vs New York|
And less than 3 minutes into overtime it was over right in front of me. Kyle Turris with the beautiful top shelf to beat Henrik Lundqvist and the comeback was complete. Sens win 3-2 in OT to tie the series at 2 a piece. This now means we get another home game this year at least. It was also our first playoff win in 8 tries and our first ever playoff win without Daniel Alfredsson.
|The Sens celebrate Kyle Turris' OT winner|
And the goal and memory was so good I had to post a 2nd picture of the celebration. The crowd has jumping up and down and so were the players. Kyle Turris was grinning from ear to ear and rightfully so. I love that the puck is sitting in the net still in this picture. A few seconds after this was taken, Chris Neil skated over and grabbed the puck for Turris. Great veteran move by Neiler. Just like that the series was tied at 2 and it has become a best of 3. What a great memory. Out first home OT winner in the playoffs since Mike Fisher scored against Toronto in 2004.
This game was an all timer is Senators lore. The fought back from an early deficit and tied the series with a famous goal. The crowd was as good as I've ever seen and everyone left happy, especially me, who now has a new story to tell. I can say I was there for the Turris goal.