OTTAWA – As good-luck charms go, fibreglass shrapnel isn’t high on most hockey players’ lists.
But it seemed to do the trick for Colin Greening, whose double-overtime heroics lifted the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Greening needed six stitches to close a gash on his left cheek after taking a wayward stick to the face early in the game.
The euphoria of his goal was still settling in even as the Senators’ medical staff were picking tiny bits of fibreglass out of his face.
“You get a lot of adrenaline going through your body, but they were just small pieces,” Greening said. “Like I said, the big pieces were all taken out.”
Greening scored 7:39 into double overtime to salvage a game for the Senators that looked to be going the other way with just seconds left on the clock in the third period.
Pittsburgh still leads the series 2-1, with Game 4 in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Tyler Kennedy scored with just over a minute to play in the second period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. It looked as though Pittsburgh would hold onto their lead when Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson took a slashing penalty with less than two minutes remaining in regulation time.
But Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson brought the sellout crowd to its feet with a short-handed goal with 28 seconds left to send the game into extra time.
“It looked like they had it wrapped up, and we were able to get a big goal shorthanded to get into overtime, and then both teams had their chances before we got the winner,” Alfredsson said.
Both teams had good scoring chances in the extra periods. Perhaps the best chance came when a Pittsburgh shot grazed the outstretched pad of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and ricocheted off the post to nearly end the game in the first period of overtime.
Anderson was on his game, stopping 49 shots Sunday night after being pulled in Game 2.
He robbed Penguins captain Sidney Crosby early in the second period and then moments later stopped a hard shot by Evgeni Malkin, who smashed his stick against the ice in frustration.
He again stymied Malkin with a sprawling save in the first overtime. Anderson’s extra-time heroics brought the crowd of 20,500 to its feet with chants of “Andy! Andy!”
“You don’t know what kind of bounces you’re going to get. You just got to find a way to just keep getting pucks to the net and hope for some lucky bounces,” Anderson said. “I had some luck my way with a couple of posts they hit, but you know, sometimes you’ve got to be lucky to be good.”
At the other end of the ice, the Senators struggled to get the puck past Penguins netminder Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 46 shots.
All eyes were on Spezza as he made his return to the Senators lineup for the first time since Jan. 27, after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disc.
The sellout crowd chanted the 29-year-old’s name during his first shift. He lined up alongside Milan Michalek and Cory Conacher.
He faced a familiar opponent. Spezza’s last game before going under the knife was at home against the Penguins, when he got one assist and logged 21 minutes of ice time.
In his first game back, Spezza was slow to backcheck but he did manage to generate a few scoring chances and made some nice passes.
His back was put to the test in overtime when Penguins forward Craig Adams delivered a bone-crunching hit along the boards. Spezza shook off the hit and seemed none the worse for wear.
“I popped up as quick as possible and tried to get to the bench,” Spezza said. “I was just trying to get the puck out and was in a vulnerable position, and he picked me a little clean there.”
The win means the Senators remain undefeated on home ice during this year’s playoffs.