As the final buzzer sounded on their season, the Senators gathered around goaltender Martin Gerber for one final goodbye.
Mercifully, there is no tomorrow for the Senators and the second-guessing can finally, officially begin.
As Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins were celebrating their four-game first round sweep over Ottawa with goals from Evgeni Malkin and Jarko Ruutu, the Senators were left wondering what went so horribly in wrong in a 3-1 loss last night in Game 4.
After making a trip to the Stanley Cup final last spring, the Senators will have the longest summer in their 11-year history in the playoffs and they’ll have plenty of time to do a lot of soul-searching about what went so horrible wrong in a season they started out 15-2.
Trying to get the offence back on track, Senators GM/coach Bryan Murray, in one final desperate move, reunited the trio of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson, but they couldn’t save the club from this mess and the ugly hole Ottawa dug for itself.
That didn’t work. Nothing worked. It really hadn’t worked for this club since mid-December and that’s why today the Senators are on the outside looking in. These struggles had gone on for far too long and this night just typified the way they’d played for most of the second half of the season.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, sitting in his private box, must have been livid with this display. This is only the third time in team history the Senators have been swept in the playoffs and Melnyk shelled out a lot of coin after last year’s long run to keep this team together.
It would be difficult to even suggest the Senators went down with a fight because they didn’t in any way. They abandoned goaltender Martin Gerber throughout the series and last night’s effort was more of the same because the scoreboard could have looked a lot worse if Cory Stillman hadn’t scored.
Ruutu had the go-ahead goal at 15:28 of the second through Gerber’s five-hole to give the Pens a 2-1 lead. It appeared that Antoine Vermette tied it up with 2:59 left in the second, but it was ruled to be a “distinct kicking motion” after video review and was called back without much of a fight from the Senators.
It was looking bleak for the Senators until Stillman brought the crowd to life at 10:31 of the second. He pushed a loose puck in the crease through Marc-Andre Fleury which finally brought the quiet crowd to life because there wasn’t much in the way of chances.
Like they have the whole series, the Senators struggled with discipline problems. It was a slashing call on Heatley only 48 seconds into the second period that led to Malkin’s second goal of the playoffs and seventh point in the series.
Only moments after Vermette was unable to convert a pass from Cody Bass on a 2-on-1 shorthanded effort, Malkin pushed his own rebound by Gerber on the stick side at 1:40 to give the Penguins the lead.
Yes, the Senators were supposed to be the team fighting for their lives, but they sure didn’t look like it in the first period. Gerber was the only guy who was ready to compete as Ottawa was outshot 14-5 and had the good forturne of Sykora hitting the post with five minutes left in the period.
The Senators were playing so bad and making so many stupid turnovers to give the Penguins scoring chances, the silence left many wondering if this was a playoff game or a mid-season effort in January that meant little. Ottawa didn’t have a shot on Fleury in the final 6:41 of the period.