'We just stuck with it'
Senators' resiliency 'a good sign' for team as it moves forward
|With a big rally against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, defenceman Chris Phillips says the Senators gained a boost in confidence (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Down 3-0 after two periods and with seemingly every break in the book working against them, the Ottawa Senators somehow managed to find a way to extricate a point out of Thursday's 6-5 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Place. Even after roaring back with the first three goals of the final period to square matters, the Senators were forced to rebound from 4-3 and 5-4 deficits to get the game to OT.
If there was ever a night to applaud a team's resiliency, this was it.
"We just stuck with it and stuck with it," said defenceman Chris Phillips, whose goal with 1.6 seconds remaining forced the extra period. "We never got down or dejected about anything that was happening. We just kept pushing forward and believed in each other and our game plan. We knew if we did that, good things were going to happen and they finally came to us in the third."
Senators head coach Cory Clouston saw his team surrender three goals – all of them redirected off an Ottawa player's stick or skate – in a bizarre first period. But he liked the way his charges didn't fold their tents, even with a goose egg still on their side of the scoreboard as the game rolled into the last 20 minutes.
"It was just one of those games," said Clouston. "It took us a little while to respond and rebound but I thought in the third period, the guys showed a lot of character. It would have been pretty easy to throw in the towel but any time you can get a point in that situation, it’s a positive."
Added centre Mike Fisher: "We didn't quit. We slowly stuck with it and in the third, we found ways to get some goals. They'd get another and we'd get another one. It was an exciting game for the fans, for sure. It's unfortunate we couldn't pull off a win (but) it’s a good sign, knowing we can come back in games."
In the dressing room between the second and third periods, captain Daniel Alfredsson sensed that his team had no intention of simply rolling over in the final 20 minutes.
"We knew we were struggling but if we could get some momentum, we could run with it," he said. "If you go out and give it everything you have – even when things aren’t going well for you – you give yourself a chance. If you don’t and you just go out there and go through the motions, there’s no way you’re coming back.
"But we had a pretty determined feeling in the dressing room. Let’s try to get something going early and get some momentum. If we do, maybe we can make a game out of it. It’s pretty amazing how momentum can change from being three goals down going into the third to being able to come back and then come back another couple of times."
It's the kind of thing they'll file away for further use down the road.
For the time being, they'll try to build off that on Saturday night, when the Boston Bruins make their first of three visits to Scotiabank Place this season (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Not that the Senators will dwell too much longer on what went on Thursday.
"We threw that game out the window, we got our point and we're continuing on against Boston," said defenceman Matt Carkner.
The Senators' intestinal fortitude might get a test of a different sort against the Bs. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire and forward Milan Michalek, the team's current goal leader with five in eight games, were both absent from practice today.
Leclaire is suffering from "a little bit of the flu," Clouston said, adding "we just wanted to give him a day off to make sure he's rested." Michalek is listed with an upper body injury but Clouston termed his status "possible" for Saturday. If he can't go, Shean Donovan would draw back into the lineup.
Around the boards
Forward Jesse Winchester, who has been sidelined since Sept. 18 with a right knee injury, has been loaned to the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators on a two-week conditioning stint. Winchester is expected to suit up for the B-Sens tonight against the Syracuse Crunch. "He's been off for (more than) a month and it's tough to just get thrown back in," said Clouston. "We just felt if he could practice for a week down there and get four or five games in, it should help his cause out a lot more than just trying to get him into a game (here)." ... Centre Jason Spezza also took a day off today but is expected to be the lineup Saturday ... The Senators' current 5-2-1 record is a 180-degree reversal from the 2-5-1 mark they owned after eight games a year ago ... Fewer than 250 tickets remain for the game against the Bruins.