Monday 26th September 2016,
Balltribe

Surging Sens Rally to Bury Sharks, Overtake Bruins in Wild Card Race

senatorswinPlease refrain from throwing hamburgers at your computer screen.

All this talk about the Hamburgler has made me anything but hungry for McDonald’s. Andrew Hammond and his Senators teammates however, are hungry for something far more significant at this juncture: a playoff spot.

Ottawa’s 5-2 win over San Jose Monday Night was their seventh in a row. Not only did they supplant the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (momentarily), they all but drove the final nail into the Sharks’ coffin in terms of playoff contention. Three weeks ago, the Sens had a 2.5% chance of making the playoffs. Tonight, they now claim a one point lead over the Bruins for the final wild card spot with a game in hand. The win also delivers a blow to the Panthers’ playoff hopes as they now sit five points back of Ottawa.

Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring at 14:09 of the 1st period and Ottawa would take that lead to the locker room after 20 minutes of play. The Sharks tallied twice in 29 seconds in the middle frame from Joe Pavelski (PP) and rookie Christ Tierney. Trailing 2-1 entering the third period at Corel Centre Canadian Tire Centre, the Senators dug deep in a critical third period and delivered with four unanswered in the final period. Zibanejad scored his second of the night to tie it less than three minutes into the period, followed by Alex Chiasson’s eventual game winner at 12:19. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman added insurance tallies in the final minutes to ice it. For Ottawa, they have registered points in 16 of their last 17 contests, notching a staggering 15-2-1 record since Valentine’s Day. As for The Hamburgler Andrew Hammond, the White Rock, BC native still has not lost in regulation for the Sens going 14-0-1 (7-0-0 on home ice).

The Ottawa Senators may be the hottest team in the NHL at the moment, save for maybe the New York Rangers who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference with 99 points (tied with Montreal). Ottawa dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime at MSG earlier this season in their only meeting with the blue shirts; they have two games remaining with New York. This Senators club believes they can do anything right now with their balanced scoring and hot goaltender. As history has shown, riding a hot goalie through the playoffs more often than not will lead to the Finals. The Senators haven’t been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2007 where they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. If Ottawa keeps playing like they have been since February 14th, it may not be so outlandish to envision them in a rematch with their west coast rival.

You’ve probably had enough stats and numbers for one recap, but I’ll throw one more at you: Monday Night’s win over San Jose was Ottawa’s first over the Sharks at Corel/Canadian Tire Centre since December of 2002. How does that make you feel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau?

“Neat!” I’ll take that over a hamburger any day.

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