|Ottawa Senators Ray Emery during practice at Scotiabank Place on Friday. (The Ottawa Sun/Errol McGihon)
BUFFALO - The Senators have already spoiled one party.
They don't plan to do it again.
The celebration was put on hold after a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final on Thursday at home.
But the Senators don't want to make their fans wait any longer as the club
attempts to book its first trip to the Stanley Cup final.
The Sabres, of course, have other plans. They are convinced they can
overcome a 3-1 deficit in this series, starting with today's Game 5 at HSBC
"It's about how you respond," Senators centre Mike Fisher said yesterday.
"We've been able to come back from losses pretty strong this year. Sure,
it's going to be tough going into Buffalo, but we've played pretty well
this year and we're all ready for the challenge. We all know what's at stake
"They're going to come out strong, definitely, and we've just got to come
out with our best effort. There's swings, ups and downs in the playoffs, and
that's what happens when two good teams face off. We want to give ourselves
a chance to win and we've just got to get back to playing our game."
The Sabres hope their victory in Game 4 planted a seed of doubt in Ottawa.
But the Senators remain confident after outplaying Buffalo for the final 25
minutes of that game in rallying from a 3-0 deficit.
"Even when it was 3-0, we still felt like we could win that game," Senators
coach Bryan Murray said.
The Senators haven't lost back-to-back games since December.
"We've made good adjustments after losses. We've been good at knowing what
we've done wrong and getting the done," centre Jason Spezza said. "There's a
strong will to want to win hockey games in this dressing room. They're
looking for any edge they can get right now and it's important for us not to
give them one.
"It's a tough game to win (following a loss). We've done it twice in these
playoffs and, hopefully, we can do it a third time. If we can have a good
start and carry the momentum, it will probably set us up better than
allowing them to score nine seconds into the game like they did the other
The Sabres, meanwhile, have no margin for error in battling long odds. Only
two teams in NHL history - the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New
York Islanders and - have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
"I hope (the fact Ottawa is up 3-1) is an edge," said Murray. "They talked
about us being comfortable and understand (how tough it is to close out a
series). We know. We were in this position last year (down 3-0 to the
Sabres) and we did exactly the same thing.
"All you can do, when you're in that position, is send a message to just
play. You just have to play your game and do what you have to do. We can't
afford to make a mistake and they can't afford to make a mistake as well.
"We want to end the series and they want to continue this series. We're
ahead in this series and all we can do is play our best."