The Ottawa Senators have been involved in some iconic games over the course of their existence, and those who have called those games have their own places within that history. From Bob Cole to Jim Hughson, many great broadcasters have illustrated the scenes of Senators glory with only their words. From overtime winners to iconic moments, here are five of the greatest playoff goal calls in Senators history.
On May 19th, 2007, the Ottawa Senators were one win away from their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history. The Sens held a 3-1 series lead on the Buffalo Sabres, and the fifth game was held at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The pressure was all on Ottawa, as they had taken a 3-0 series lead, and failed at the chance to complete the sweep on home ice in game four. The Sabres had the chance to make the series close again, and put the panic in the Senators and their fan base. After a back and forth game that saw Ottawa and Buffalo tied after three periods, the game went into overtime. After trading chances for the first half of the extra period, the famous “Pizza line” of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley went to work. After Heatley received the puck from defenseman Andrej Meszaros, he dropped it back to Alfredsson. The Sens captain then carried the puck through the Sabres blueline, and CBC broadcaster Bob Cole painted the picture, “Alfredsson in again, nearly got in, scores! Alfredsson scores and the series is over! And the Ottawa Senators are going on, to the Stanley Cup Championship!”
While the Senators would lose in the finals to the Anaheim Ducks in five games, the Alfredsson goal represented the peak of Senators fandom. They had slayed the demons of past Senators playoff futility, and reached the summit of their championship aspirations.
As the 2017 NHL playoffs got underway, the Senators found themselves matched up with the Boston Bruins in the first round. Despite being the higher seed the Sens were down 1-0 in the series, making game two a pivotal moment for the hopes of a long playoff run. This led to game two, and our second influential broadcasting call (and it won't be the last from this game).
The Bruins had taken a 3-1 lead into the third period before the Senators came back and tied the game. As overtime loomed, it became increasingly clear that the next goal mattered greatly. If Ottawa scored, the series was tied, and that gave Ottawa a chance to build on an overtime victory, taking that momentum into the next game. If Boston won, the Bruins would be heading home up 2-0, which would make a series victory incredibly likely. As overtime commenced, it didn’t take long for the hero to be unveiled. However, it was an unlikely candidate, as Bob Cole once again made the call; “And once again the penalty is over, here’s [Mark] Stone, he turns around twice, Phaneuf shot, Scores! Dion Phaneuf! And the place goes crazy!”
Phaneuf, who was nearing the end of his career, had enjoyed a rejuvenation of sorts after being a Senator. He had already endeared himself to the Ottawa faithful during the regular season, and this goal was key to the preservation of what would become a run to the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
Later during those 2017 playoffs, the Senators found themselves facing the New York Rangers in the second round. After defeating the Bruins in the opening round, the Senators and their fans began to channel the “Pesky” Sens moniker that had been present during the 2012-13 shortened season. The Senators once held the higher seed, but this time they achieved victory in game one. With the chance to secure a 2-0 stranglehold against New York, the Senators and Rangers realized the gravity of the situation.
The Rangers came out firing, with the blueshirts getting two goal leads on two separate occasions. The Senators kept themselves in the game however, coming back to tie the game every time. This was in large part due to the heroics of Jean Gabriel Pageau, who scored the two goals in rapid succession, tying the game at five late in the third period. The first overtime solved nothing, despite the Rangers and Senators trading grade-A chances all period. As the game entered the second period of OT, Pageau would leave his mark on Senators history, as TSN broadcaster Paul Romanuk made the call; “Here comes Pageau, all the way down, Pageau, SCORES! And it is utter elation in this building right now! Pageau with the winner!”
Pageau’s fourth goal of the game gave the Senators the win and a 2-0 series lead. The continued playoff dominance of Pageau was once again shown, giving the Senators the boost they needed to win their second round series, and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In game five of the same Rangers-Senators series, it was another high scoring game. New York and Ottawa had played themselves into a 4-4 tie. With the series tied at two games a piece, the pivotal 5th game was all but a must win for both teams. If the Rangers won, they would take the series lead with the deciding game up for grabs at Madison Square Garden. If the Sens win, they would have some breathing room, and possibly win the series at MSG. It all led to about the seven minute mark in the first overtime, when Kyle Turris picked up the puck near center ice. Paul Romanuk, still calling the series, had this to say;
“Picked up here by Turris, he’ll come in, Turris, blocked, second chance, he scores! And they have done it again! The Senators triumph in overtime! And they lead this series, 3 games to 2.”
Turris had a history of overtime heroics already, scoring an OT winner in 2012 against the very same Rangers. His goal was the dagger through the hearts of the Rangers faithful, and gave Ottawa the stranglehold on the series. The Sens finished off the Rangers a few nights later, taking the series in six, sending the franchise to its first Conference Final appearance since 2007.
Going back to the second game of the 2017 first round series against Boston, Bob Cole had another fantastic goal call. While the goal was not all that important to the final box score, it was an amazing display of both hockey skill, and Cole’s grasp on how to use his voice to add emotion to the game.
Midway through the third period, the Senators were down 3-2. However, the momentum was trending towards Ottawa. After sustained pressure, Erik Karlsson took the puck for a skate around the Bruins end of the ice, before feeding it to a wide open Derick Brassard, leading Bob Cole to make an amazing call;
“Karlsson kept it in onside, good work by Karlsson, look at him skate! Passes, Scores! Wow! What a play! What a play by the captain!”
The tying goal allowed Ottawa to take the game into overtime, where they would eventually beat the Bruins on the Phaneuf goal that was previously mentioned. Although this goal did not have the same gravity as the others, the emotion and skill on display, combined with Cole’s masterclass in the press box, makes this among the best calls in the Senators history.
Several fantastic calls have been made in hockey history by many great broadcasters. The goals mentioned have a place in the hearts of Senators fans because they were either a game winner, a series winner, or in the case of Derek Brassard’s goal, an excellent showcase of the best defenseman to play in Ottawa. What ties these goals together are the words of the play-by-play men whose passion ignites a fanbase, and keeps the memories fresh in their minds. You can watch these goals on mute, and still have those feelings, but without the accompaniment of the wordsmiths in the booth, they wouldn’t feel quite the same. Whether it's a legend like Bob Cole, or your local junior commentator, the broadcasters are an essential part of a good hockey viewing experience.
By Ben Fraser | Sens Nation Hockey