Cheapseats: Win one of Sens' best, says Phillips
The Ottawa Senators took on the New York Rangers during the game four of the Eastern Conference playoff series at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa Wednesday April 18, 2012. Ottawa Senators Chris Neil and Nick Foligno celebrate Kyle Turris' overtime winning goalWednesday night in Ottawa. The Senators defeated the Rangers 3-2 in overtime. Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency
Scoring the first goal in a game is so overrated.
Same with having a lead, apparently.
“We’ve had the lead twice and we’ve got two wins now,” Senators defenceman Chris Phillips said after Wednesday’s dramatic three-goal rally gave the Senators a 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers at The Bank.
Yup, after crawling back from a deficit seven times to win games in the third period during the regular season, the Comeback Kids have done it again. Only this time, they bounced back with a pair in an inspiring second period.
“All year long we’ve been able to stay in games when we’re down and believe that we can turn it around, come out on the winning end,” said Phillips, who was among the many Senators singled out by coach Paul MacLean for having an “outstanding” game. “(Wednesday) was no different.
“That’s the things you hope you learn and grow from during the regular season, and we were able to use that (Wednesday).”
It was nine years ago that Phillips was the overtime hero — Kyle Turris was Wednesday — on May 21, 2003, when he scored the overtime winner in New Jersey to bring a conference final with the Devils back to Ottawa for a Game 7 the Senators would eventually lose.
“This one is for sure right up there,” said Phillips —the team’s longest-serving active players (with Daniel Alfredsson concussed) — when asked where the series-evening victory over the Rangers ranks among the biggest in franchise history. “Especially if things go our way the rest of the series.
“Right now there’s a great feeling in this room, we were able to tie it up as opposed to being down 3-1. That’s a huge swing. But at the same time, that’s all we did. Tie it up. It’s not going to get any easier. We’ve got a long ways to go.”
And they’re coming back at least one more time — coming back to Ottawa for a Game 6, when there was no such guarantee before Wednesday’s rally.
STARTS AND STOPS
Fans were so flustered by the Senators’ miserable start in Game 4 they totally forgot the “Alfie” chant (for Daniel Alfredsson, despite the fact he was home with a concussion) at the 11-minute mark of the opening period. The timing of everything was better for the Senators in the second, as Milan Michalek’s goal came just before a TV timeout, during which the Ottawa crowd was at its very loudest. Sure enough, at the 11-minute mark a resounding “Alfie” chant soon followed ... There was no penalty on Marc Staal, but don’t be surprised if he is suspended for his head shot on Jason Spezza. Welcome to today’s NHL ... Biggest save by a Senator may have belonged to Jesse Winchester, who swiped the puck away as it slid toward the open net. The Senators will miss Winchester (upper body) if he is out for any length of time.
STUFF I THINK I THUNK
Not sure if he’s been watching the media availabilities with John Tortorella — who twice answered “I don’t wanna tell ya” to very casual questions Wednesday — but MacLean has started short-answering other reporters than this one, as well. “Oh, to have Jacques Martin back,” one veteran, highly respected scribe said Wednesday morning ... One very telling sign in the crowd: “I’m not eating til Michalek scores me a goal.” The maker is in for some Twitter abuse if Michalek’s agent finds out ... Michalek saved the poor lad some suffering, and relieved his own, by softly backhanding a shot over Hendrik Lundqvist after he had been neatly sent in alone by Matt Carkner’s soft hands ... Colin Greening was in the middle of a TV interview Wednesday morning when he heard something come from the owner of Konopka’s Korner that cracked him up. “I’m sorry,” he said, trying to gather his composure. “You guys have got technology. You can bleep that out.” Apparently, the NHL doesn’t think that way. What exactly did Zenon Konopka say to Brian Boyle while he was being interviewed on NBC before Game 2 to get fined $2,500, and the team dinged 10 grand? “I was asking him about a good spot in New York to grab a couple of pops, watch the Yankees game and have a bite to eat,” Konopka offered. Did he misunderstand what you were saying? “No, I don’t think he did,” said Konopka. “Someone else misunderstood.” ... The refs you weren’t happy with this time were Eric Furlatt and Francois St-Laurent, so you know. Sergei Gonchar played his best game as a Senator Wednesday.
The villian that is Boyle wasn’t totally harassed by hockey fans in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, an off-day in the series. “I heard some hootin’ and hollerin’ outside of a Quiznos, and then there was a little drive-by, outside the hotel,” Boyle said with a grin Wednesday morning. “Just two little funny things.” What did the guys driving by yell? “I can’t really repeat it, to be honest,” he said. When a reporter feigned shock, saying that Ottawans have a reputation of being an overly friendly people, Boyle grinned again. “I find that as well,” he said. They wouldn’t boo you at Scotiabank Place if you weren’t hurting their team, Boyle was told. “I mean, for whatever reason it is a little flattering,” he said. “I don’t want to elaborate too much on it. But it’s definitely just surprising.” ... Underrated (in these parts) is the job the Rangers shutdown D-pairing of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh has done on Ottawa’s top line.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ...
Ottawa players are now wearing red hoodies with the word “Family” on the back. Saw what two of them had on the arm — Zenon Konopka’s says “Cousin Zee,” while Chris Neil’s has “Cousin Neil Dog.” Are they all cousins? “Nope,” said Konopka, who would only divulge that there’s an “Uncle Kuba” ... The Senators are the only NHL team whose rink I’ve been in this season that doesn't put any snack other than popcorn in their press box. I’m fine with it. I’m not hungry. I’m just a little embarrassed for them ... But then, this is a place that has had Internet problems for at least a month. Can’t help but think they’d be fixed if Eugene Melnyk complained about having trouble sending an e-mail.
Busiest spot in the Senators dressing room these days is around Zenon Konopka’s stall, which Cheapseats readers know as Konopka Korner. Media are surrounding the former 67’s captain both because he’s become a central figure in this series as well as the fact he’s the best quote on the team. Hours before Game 4, Konopka was telling stories about his days playing in the East Coast League for legendary coach John Brophy. “My first game, I’m worried. I just want a job. I led the OHL in assists and I couldn’t find a job. Couldn’t find a place to play. So Broph signed me, we’re playing in Reading, Pa., and we’re down 5-0 after one. We ended up losing 7-0. I fought a guy in the second period, it was a pretty good fight. I’m sitting in my stall, I’m thinking, if I get released from this team, my career is over. I should have went to school. Broph didn’t have any assistant coaches. Just him. So the trainer comes over to me and says ‘Hey, Broph wants to talk to you.’ I’m thinkin’, oh f---, I’m done, I’m done. So I go in to see him and he’s like ‘sit down son.’ Then he says ‘you had one f-----g, helluva game tonight.’ I’m like, we lost 7-1. I did a lot of sittin’. And he says ‘that fight ...’ and he gets up and he starts smashin’ me, punching me. He’s 73 and he looks like he’s 103, and then he starts ‘you hit him with the right, and the left ...’ and then I figured it out. It didn’t matter how you played for Broph, as long as you fought by the end of the game, he thought you had a great game. I led the team in scoring, and I had like 230 minutes. Guys would sucker guys, we fought guys in the hallway, and instead of Broph calming it down, he’d be with the stick, slashing guys in the hallway. One time we were in Peoria, I was the last guy to get off the ice and some fans were yelling at me, and I was kind of yelling back, and Broph comes flyin over, so I stopped what I was doing, and he grabs my stick and smashes the fan. Security guard goes, Mr. Brophy, you can’t hit fans! Broph goes, ‘I can do whatever the f--- I want.’ The security guard tosses the stick, so he goes into the hallway, grabs the fire extinguisher, smashes that, glass all over the place, and walks out. What do you think Colin Campbell would fine him, if he did that?’