When we found out the Sens first round opponent would be Montreal, I was excited. We had never played them before and I was curious if a rivalry would develop the way it did wth Toronto through our playoff series'. Being only 2 hours away didn't hurt either, and when the Sens won game 4 in a glorious OT comeback, I knew I had to be at a potentially game clinching game 5 in la belle province. This is game 5 through my eyes, and more specifically my smartphone.
When going to a road game, the first thing you need to do is gear up and rock as much of your teams stuff as possible to try and counteract the massive fan base your against. I decided to go with the Walrus tee, red Erik Karlsson jersey and a Sens Army scarf. Gotta rep your team to the fullest at another teams home.
This was the ticket that got me in the building. For $93 taxes and fees in I wasn't complaining at all. And oh ya, for all the talk of Montreal having the best, most loyal fans in the league, I was able to snag a pair of seats to this elimination game for face value off the Canadiens official site the night before the game. That means they weren't even sold out.
Afte getting to Montreal, we parked and needed some refreshments to get ready for the game. It turned out the Team 1200 was broadcasting from the Irish Embassy Pub, which was ground zero for Sens Army that night. It was 28 degees and humid out and I needed a beer. Here's the first Guinness of the trip. It went down smooth.
Here's a pic of some of the members of Sens Army who were at the Pub, along with AJ from the team 1200. Everyone was enthusiastic about the game that night. We all thought we would end the series in 5.
After a few more Guinness and a hamburger at the pub, we decided to head down to the Bell Centre a bit early to take in a little atmosphere. Look at all those Habs jerseys. Such passion for their team. The street party was fun though, grabbed another brewski, got chirped by a few fans, but it was easy to take when your team is on a roll. It didn't phase me at all. I also ran into Ottawa media member Patricia Boal. What a day!
We went in a bit early to check out the seats and watch warmup. This was our view. Not too shabby right? Especially for $93. I was excited but nervous, as anyone would be.
Ten minutes to game time. The nerves were coming. I can only imagine how the players felt. What a feelin.
The Habs are known for their long pre game ceremonies. Some people like em, others hate, but I thought they were pretty cool. When you have a history like theirs it's a lot easier to justify, like this, when they projected all the names off the Stanley Cups they won onto the ice.
And more pre game stuff, this time featuring 2 guys not playing. The crowd started chanting Budaj, Budaj, Budaj in an attempt to pump up their now starting goalie. We know now how that worked out.
This one was actually pretty cool. They had a kid skate around with a torch and then he stops at centre ice and puts the flame on the faceoff circle. When he does that, the entire rink lights up with a flame. Pretty cool I must admit.
Anthem time! That meant the game was just moments away. The crowd sung every word in French, and surprisingly in English too. Bravo Quebec.
Opening faceoff and the game was underway. Montreal came out blazing and firing on all cylinders as you would expect in a game that could end their season. Only question was could the Senators keep from getting behind early or not.
Montreal should have scored 3 or 4 in the first 2 minutes of the game. If it wasn't for Craig Anderson making multiple spectacular saves, the game would have been over before it started. Somehow despite being severely outplayed, we managed to score just 2:17 in on a nice rebound from Zack Smith. Just 12 minutes in it was 2-0 after Conacher scored and I was going nuts. What a dream start.
Alfie took a bad penalty to end the period and the Habs got on the board with a PK Subban powerplay goal with just 15 seconds left in the opening stanza. The crowd was fired up. I was crushed. We were so close to getting out with a massive 2-0 lead and it sucked to lose it with so little time left.
It was the first intermission and I needed to take a walk to calm my nerves. I ran into this guy and I instantly smiled at the jersey foul. You can always count on cocky Habs fan to do something stupid.
The 2nd period was pretty boring, at least scoring wise, but being up just 1 in enemy terriory, I was anxious. Thanks to our #1 ranked PK, we stayed in the game and 11:29 into the second, Kyle Turris was cross checked into Budaj by a Habs player. The puck went in. The refs said goal, but the Habs and especially their fans were fuming. They thought their own player cross checking a Sens player into their own goalie meant the goal shouldn't count by their logic. Here's Alfie and a Habs player discussing the play with the refs. It was under review.
But not for long. Boom! The goal rightfully counted and the score was 3-1. I felt a lot better but wasn't getting overly confident just yet. Here's Therrien after the shorthanded goal was announced. He wasn't pleased and neither were their fans. In fact, a guy 2 rows in front of me got so mad he chucked an almost full beer can from his 3rd level seat all the way down to the 100 level. I've been to 100's of sporting events and never seen that, especialy at your home arena. It could have seriously injured someone. Stay classy Habs fans.
And here come the players out for the 3rd. This was the time to close out the series and they knew it and so did we. A 2 goal lead was pretty close to a sure thing for a team and goaltender who hadn't allowed a goal in the final frame all series. Nevertheless I tried to remain as calm as possible. After all we had just come back from 2 goals on Tuesday. I said I'd sure feel a lot better if we got one more.
And just like that, 6 minutes into the 3rd, on a powerplay no less, the one and only Alfie put us up 4-1. I knew the series was over. The fans around us knew the series was over. You could hear the hope leave the building as the goal was being celebrated. I of course jumped up and celebrated what was certainly the series clinching goal. No one said a word to me.
After the 4th goal, one Habs fan in the 100 level was so frustrated he or she threw his or her jersey onto the Bell Centre ice in disgust. That's what happens when the 7 seed dominated the 2 seed. People get frustrated. I loved it.
Six minutes later Cory Conacher scored another PP goal to make it 5-1 and ending all doubt about the outcome. I didn't even really celebrate that one. I kinda felt bad for the 20,000+ in attendance. Almost. They I remembered all the stupid Ole chants at SBP and that thought vanished.
You know things are going well whe Erik Condra is getting powerplay time. EC scored to make it SIX to ONE. In the Bell Centre. In an elimintion game. The crowd look stunned. I couldn't blame em. That was their 3rd PP goal of the period to end their season and the Sens 13th 3rd period goal this series to the Habs ZERO.
Scoreboard! Talk about an embarrassing performance at home in a game that could extend your season. That was Ottawa's second 6-1 win of the series. Did I mention we were the SEVENTH seed?
The clock counted down and the game was officially over. I have to give credit the Habs fans, with about 70% of them staying to the end to cheer on their team for the last time this season. There was no way I was missing the handshake. Even a few Habs fans told me congratulations for the series win and good luck this season. I appreciated the love.
And the series ending handshakes. It was great to be there in person for our first series win against a Canadian team. Even the coaches managed to put aside their diferences and shake hands as well. It was a good time to be a Sens fan.
As the Sens left the ice as the victors, the Habs saluted their fans for the last time this year. The crowd gave them a loud cheer. It was a nice moment, even if they had to of been quite disappointed to be the first Eastern Conference team eliminated.
And this is the enduring shot of the night. Our 2 most important players, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson giving interviews, while the arena empties in disappointment and the scoreboard shows the massive beatdown the Sens just handed out to the Canadiens.
The series was a lot of fun and though it seemed a lot longer, it only lasted a week. But the rivlarly that has now been created through this nasty series will endure. And I for one am glad I was there to experience it all in person. I'll be able to tell my grandkids one day about being at the series clinching win, where an underrated team came into a hockey mecca and left with their hearts. It was a moment in Sens history I'll always remember.
We deserved the series. We're the Pesky Sens after all. Look out 2nd round opponent whoever you are. You're next.
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