A sold out crowd at Scotiabank Place did everything they could. 20,500 packed the seats at SBP to cheer on their beloved Ottawa Senators.
In the end it wasn't enough. Chris Neil opened the scoring and Jason Spezza added a Baconator goal in the final minute but the Rangers held on for a 3-2 victory to force a deciding seventh game at MSG on Thursday night.
For the Sens, that extra day off could not come at a better time.
From top to bottom, the Senators seemed uncharacteristically sloppy on a night where they had a chance to close out the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
As Paul MacLean mentioned in post game address, they just seemed to lack focus on a night where it was needed more than ever. That lack of focus eventually led to Paul MacLean benching the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza in the third period, including a full two minute power play.
While he has earned the respect and a I hesitate to second guess a guy that has pushed all the right buttons this season, benching those two guys at this point in a series was a mistake. Alfredsson was clearly unhappy with the decision and took his anger out on his stick and water bottle in a meltdown caught by television cameras.
Alfredsson, Spezza and MacLean had better get back on the same page heading into Thursday night.
Obviously excuses do very little at this time of year but the Sens were the victims of some momentum changing penalties. The boarding penalty on Jakob Silfverberg, where he appeared to be trying to hold up the Rangers defender, was a joke. The hooking call on Kuba was soft. And the goalie interference call, that gave the Rangers a go-ahead 5 on 3 goal, was completely unacceptable in a playoff game.
Spoke with someone after the game who told me that the Director of Officiating met with the game officials after the game and was livid about some of the calls and asked for a separate room to review the game tapes. Although I'm sure part of that anger had to do with a questionable goal Ottawa scored in the final minute.
The Senators now must refocus and prepare for game seven at Madison Square Garden, beginning with a practice today at noon.
If at the beginning of the year, I told you the Ottawa Senators would be in a Game 7 situation, with a chance to knock out the top team in the East and move on to the second round of the playoffs, you would have jumped at the opportunity.
All season long this team has proven people wrong. Why stop now?
GO SENS GO!