|Buffalo Sabres' Daniel Briere says his team will be loose entering Game 5 on Saturday. (Sun Media/Sean Kilpatrick)
Daniel Briere thinks the Senators might be seeing a little red even after leaving Ottawa this afternoon.
Either that, or he's trying to plant a seed of doubt that he hopes will grow into the Senators' total collapse as the Eastern Conference final shifts back to Buffalo for Game 5 tomorrow.
"I think as soon as you start losing, there's a red flag that goes up in your head," said Briere, whose Sabres avoided being swept from the playoffs with a 3-2 win at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday.
"I don't know how they are going to approach this loss or how they're dealing with that. I can't control that. All I know is on our side, it's a little bit of momentum and now all we want to do is get a home win."
The sterling play of goalie Ryan Miller, some puck luck that led to an early goal and contributed to missed Ottawa chances, untimely penalties for the Senators and a soft bad-angle game-winner by Chris Drury combined to prolong the Sabres' playoff run.
After killing their first 18 penalties in the series, the Senators couldn't stave off a 3-on-5 disadvantage created when Chris Neil and Dean McAmmond were whistled 37 seconds apart early in the second period.
Maxim Afinogenov's goal gave Buffalo a 2-0 lead and legitimate hope of bringing the series back to a noisy HSBC Arena.
"We have a team that, when we're being pushed to the limit, we seem to answer that bell really good," said Briere. "When we've been challenged this year, we've come up with big games.
''Same thing in the post-season. For some reason, we have that knack in our dressing room of finding ways to stay alive."
Briere says the Sabres will be loose in Game 5.
"You don't go on the ice thinking you're going to make a mistake that can cost you the season," said the Sabres co-captain. "I'm out there thinking that I'm going to make the difference, and I think that's what everybody's mind frame is and should be.
''You can't play scared."
Said Drury: "Everything had been going their way in the series, so to get one on the road and come back ... we know how excited our fans are and it's a showcase game on the weekend. Hopefully, we can continue with the good play."
The Sabres could be without the services of centre Dainius Zubrus, a 24-goal scorer in the regular season, who has been playing on their checking line. He has a groin injury that kept him out of practice following Game 1 but not out of the lineup. On Wednesday, however, he only took six shifts.
If he's a no-go, the Sabres will likely insert 21-year-old Drew Stafford, who proved he has a bright future when called up from AHL Rochester this season.
In 41 games, Stafford scored 13 goals and 14 assists while accumulating 33 penalty minutes, including five for fighting Ottawa's Chris Neil after Neil's much talked about hit on Drury in February.
"We have to play better than we did in Game 4," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "Then you scare them and create lots of doubt."