OTTAWA — With a chance to dispatch the New York Rangers, the Ottawa Senators unravelled on Monday night in probably their worst game of the series.
It featured an acrimonious third period that saw head coach Paul MacLean sparingly use his big stars — Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek — prompting Alfredsson to uncharacteristically lose his temper on the bench in a 3-2 loss at Scotiabank Place.
After a first-period power-play goal from Chris Neil gave the Senators a 1-0 lead, the Rangers got second-period goals from Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Chris Kreider, two of them on the power play, to erase the deficit.
A goal that had to be reviewed and was given to Spezza with 38.4 seconds left made for some final excitement, but the Senators couldn’t get the tying goal.
The return of Alfredsson, back after missing three games with a concussion, and the NHL debut of Swedish star Jakob Silfverberg couldn’t give the Senators a playoff series win for the first time since they advanced to the Stanley Cup final in 2007. And so, with the series now tied 3-3, it goes to a seventh game on Thursday night in New York.
Alfredsson apologized for losing his temper, but said he was frustrated about being glued to the bench to start the third.
“Yeah, I was (frustrated),” he said. “We didn’t start on the power play in the third. I can understand that, too, because we weren’t very good.
“Then we took a penalty so didn’t get on for a while after that. It was a little frustration and I probably should have handled myself better.”
MacLean was coy after the game. He said the Kyle Turris power-play unit was on because they were responsible for the first-period power-play goal. But asked whether he was sending a message to Spezza, or if Spezza didn’t play much in the third because he was hurt, MacLean said: “He wasn’t hurt.”
It should make for some interesting conversations before practice on Tuesday.
“These are things you have to learn,” MacLean said. “It’s a hard thing to do. We didn’t expect that the Rangers were just going to come in and say, ‘Here you go guys, we’re ready to go home.’ But maybe we thought they were.
“I don’t know that for sure, either, but they sure came out and played, and we didn’t match the level of desperation that they had.”
Twice in the second the Senators ruined power-play chances by taking even-up penalties that gave the advantage to the Rangers. And twice they scored.
They were helped on Richards’ go-ahead goal at 17:08 when Nick Foligno also went off for interfering with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, giving the Rangers a two-man advantage for 1:14. The Senators were bitter about the call, saying Foligno was pushed into Lundqvist by Dan Girardi.
But MacLean thought the game had turned long before that.
“Well, you kind of have to have something before you lose it,” he said. “I’m not sure if we even had focus (Monday night).”
For the Senators, Craig Anderson faced 22 shots while Lundqvist was tested 27 times.
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