In a split-second, Greening’s overtime goal turned the emotional tide in series versus Penguins
Colin Greening celebrates his goal in the 2nd overtime period as the Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, in game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at Scotiabank Place.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, Postmedia News , Postmedia News
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was back at the scene of the Sunday euphoria late Monday morning, talking about how it took determination, focus, nerves of steel and a healthy share of good luck to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime.
“We find ways – they aren’t always pretty – but we find ways to win,” Anderson said.
For evidence, let us present Colin Greening, the hero of the moment.
Greening, who poked the rebound of an Andre Benoit shot past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun at the 7: 39 mark of the second session to give the Senators their 2-1 victory and hope in a series they now trail 2-1, wasn’t available to talk about the greatest moment of his hockey life until well after the clock struck midnight.
When he did appear, he was wearing an ugly welt on his left cheek, all red and pink and oozing liquid, after having six stitches to close a gash that came from an errant high stick in the second period.
“The doctors were just picking some Fiberglas out of my face and then they were sewing me up,” Greening said. “There were some small pieces left. I had to come out of the game for about five minutes (earlier in the game) and they picked out the big pieces.”
So what’s it like to play with Fiberglas in your face?
“Well, you’ve got a lot of adrenalin going through your body,” he said. “But they were only small pieces.”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Greening gladly accepted the ugly mug in exchange for a goal that he says, “you dream about growing up, playing in the garage or something.”
In a split second, the emotional tide had turned.
“When it went in, I was just overjoyed, just given the situation,” said Greening, who has scored in all three ames of the series. “If they win there, t’s 3-0.”
Instead, it’s 2-1, with Game 4 back on Scotiabank Place ice Wednesday. The odds are still stacked against the Senators – teams that have lost the opening two games of conference semifinals have won only seven of 77 series – and Ottawa must still win three of the next four games to knock out Pittsburgh.
Just the same, there’s plenty of life and belief in the dressing room from a team that just won’t go away and often appears to have someone above looking out for it.
What were the odds that Daniel Alfredsson would slip behind the Penguins defenders, perfectly deflect a Milan Michalek pass over Vokoun’s shoulder for the tying goal (shorthanded) with Anderson on the bench and 29 seconds remaining?
“You have to believe you belong here,” said defenceman Marc Methot. “Otherwise, what the hell are you doing? I can’t stress enough that guys in this room do believe that we can win. We just knocked off the second seed (the Montreal Canadiens) in the first round.”
While there have been an assortment of stars throughout the first eight games of the playoffs, the one constant has been Anderson.
After being yanked from the net in the second period of Friday’s 4-3 loss in Game 2, he rebounded to stop 49 of 50 shots in Sunday’s victory. Evgeni Malkin had 10 of those shots.
“I had no doubt that he would respond,” said coach Paul MacLean. “Craig has been through a lot. In his career, he worked hard to get to where he is. And it didn’t always go good for him.
“He had some issues, up and down, learning to play the position, and the thing that he has done is matured and figured out where he is and figured himself out.”
Anderson, who has a .940 save percentage in the playoffs, third behind Vokoun and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, says he has learned, over time, the benefits of shaking off a bad game.