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GOTS - Neal real deal



GOTS - GGroove on the Sens


Greg Gallagher

Sens Central Moderator

Twitter: @ggottawa

Attention to detail is such an important matter in the playoffs – a pair of quickies in each of the second and third periods will kill any team’s chances. The shorthanded Pascal Dupuis marker making it 5-2 was the perfect example, as Sergei Gonchar rightly held up Dupuis, but didn’t keep enough of an eye on the puck. It was ironic, given how the Sens opened up the game by springing Milan Michalek through two defenders who weren’t paying enough attention. The flightless birds likely took note, and controlled the game for the most part from there on in. A stacked team will be more than happy to take care of business, and credit them for not letting Craig Anderson get into their heads following him standing on his own in the first period …

A lot of it had to do with the Sens’ inability to clear the zone properly, or turn over pucks near the blue line. Too many of them led to Pens chances and puck-possession time. Not to mention time on the power play, and you have a recipe for disaster …

Until his opportunistic goals late in the first period and early in the third, James Neal must have been really feeling snakebitten early in the first after going scoreless in his previous five games. Not long after he whacked a bad-angle offering off the post and have it go over Anderson’s shoulder, the Pens went to work on the power play. Neal promptly put a puck into Andy on the other side, and moments later had a tantalizingly loose puck hit the back of his skate near the crease. On the goal itself, Jarome Iginla showed a little trickery when he held up faceoff opponent Zack Smith with a stick across his chest, ensuring the veteran former Flame won the draw. As for the third-period killer goal, a nice bounce went his way off the back boards …

Maybe Andy finally had enough with his defencemen not being able to clear the puck out the zone, late in the first. He wandered in behind his net to try and clear it himself, but the biscuit found itself on the stick of Mark Eaton. The Pens’ D, like his teammates throughout the same period, found Andy …

Michalek’s opening goal was not only indicative of his speed when he’s unleashed, but also his veteran savvy. His head-plus-stick fake helped freeze Tomas Vokoun, as Mach 9 fired to the opposite corner. The goal was the result of a break on net – something that Sidney Crosby and Dupuis found out on a glorious two-on-one chance, their best one of many in the first. Andy stood tall with a difficult shoulder save, and refocused just in time to stop No. 87 point blank on a rebound …

Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped the potential tying goal behind Vokoun midway through the second, only to have it hit the post. Must have felt like Evgeni Malkin in OT of Game 3 … Jason Spezza joined the post club on the late power play in the second, followed by not being able to control a cross-ice pass on the same PP. Vokoun, for his part, stoned Stone on a point-blank rebound. The Pens’ netminder was the best player in the second …

Stay-at-home Ds like Brooks Orpik can make or break a game. Orpik held up Colin Greening, who has had the hot hand in this series, right in front of the net midway through the second, before the big Ottawa winger could get a chance at a rebound. Just one of the many times the Stanley Cup champ has come up big for the Pens, and under the radar …

If you’re wondering whether Erik Karlsson did enough defensively to earn last year’s Norris nod – how about his clinical swipe of Neal in the neutral zone, a quick spin, and pass up ice to help create a point-blank chance by Alfie? …

First “Pageau, Pageau” chant: just over eight minutes to play in the first, and another one got going with under four to play in the next period …

The Scotiabank Place faithful sounded like they really tried hard to cheer when the captain’s tip shot brought the Sens within four, but at that point it’s really like pulling teeth …

FUNNY STUFF: “That’s a good time to wear that, when we’re all draggin’ a little,” said Ron MacLean, commenting on the dragon pattern on Don Cherry’s jacket. Speaking of which, a 9 out of 10 on the Don Cherry Suit Rating, as Grapes really outdid himself with the gold dragon-on-royal blue combo. Bonus points for the matching tie and gold ring … When the captain dislodged a skate blade in the second after laying a bodycheck on Eaton, some very astute camerawork showed how he was able to make it off the ice for the quickest possible change. Of course, it made 20,500 patrons and many more at home nervous as to whether it was an injury … “It skipped on Stone,” said play-by-play man Jim Hughson, as a rolling puck eluded the Ottawa forward. If it was intentional, it was clever … “This is no time for (silent-‘j’) joking,” reprimanded radio play-by-play Dean Brown on the pregame show, as Gord Wilson mistakenly said that Olli (not Jussi) Jokinen had drawn into the lineup …

STAT LINE OF THE NIGHT: Pens D Kris Letang, with four assists, one shot, one hit, plus-4, and a blocked shot. There’s a reason this guy might win the Norris ... Chris Neil led all skaters with seven hits … Neal had a game-high nine shots, had two more blocked, and three others missed the cage … The Sens won 34-31 at the faceoff dot, but Crosby won a game-high 11 draws.

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