Senators ‘making something special happen’ during run
OTTAWA — Over and over again, the players kept saying it, almost surprised by how it sounded coming out of their mouths.
“It’s like a playoff game,” said Kyle Turris.
“We’re playing for our lives,” said Craig Anderson.
After all, it was exactly one month ago when the Ottawa Senators were 14 points out of a playoff spot. Most had written them off as dead. All that remained was choosing a suit for them to be buried in. And then the impossible happened.
Riding the hot streak of an unknown, undrafted goalie, the team went on a 10-1-2 run. Ottawa swept all three games of a California road trip for the first time in franchise history and climbed past New Jersey and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, who held a five-point lead for the final wild-card spot, the Senators were within spitting distance of sneaking into the post-season.
The Bruins, however, took some of wind out of the Sens’ sails by posting a 3-1 victory Tuesday night, building their edge over Ottawa back up to seven points.
Unlike that other team from Ontario — the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have lost 22 of 27 games since Peter Horachek was named interim head coach — the Senators used a mid-season coaching change as a positive. They have relied on big-game performances from lesserknown players. They got hot when it has mattered the most and now have a better chance at reaching the first round than they do at winning the first-overall pick in the draft.
When Paul MacLean was fired as head coach on Dec. 8, the Senators had lost seven of their previous nine games, were ranked 29th in shots-allowed and were committing far too many turnovers. New coach Dave Cameron’s answer was to play more aggressively.
The Senators lost 17 of their first 28 games under Cameron. But by the all-star break, the team started to see some promising signs.
“We’re right on the cusp now, we’re making something special happen,” said forward Curtis Lazar.