Emery needs a net reversal

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

For a guy getting a lot of heat, Ray Emery didn't look or sound the least bit worried yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

Then again, coach Bryan Murray said his starting goaltender shouldn't feel the need to be concerned.

"(Emery) just has to play the game. We blamed him (Friday for the loss in Game 1)," said Murray yesterday with a wide smile.

"Today, it's not his fault anymore."

While Dora The Explorer was entertaining her faithful fans yesterday, the Senators goaltender vowed to return tonight with a strong performance of his own in Game 2 against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Anytime you have a bad game, you want to make sure that you bounce back with a strong game," said Emery. "You definitely don't want it to continue. You want to get back in the net and perform to your capabilities."

NEEDS TO REBOUND

After allowing seven goals on 23 shots -- including the tying goal with only 11 seconds remaining -- in a 7-6 loss in Game 1, Emery can get everybody back on his bandwagon with a win tonight.

The horrible performance by the rookie goalie had some people wondering aloud if the injured Dominik Hasek might crawl out of the gym and make a heroic return to the Ottawa net.

It should be noted there was a Hasek sighting yesterday. As the media surrounded Murray, the 41-year-old Hasek emerged from the gym and headed for the dressing room with Ottawa strength coach Randy Lee.

Since Hasek isn't going to author a dramatic return anytime soon, it's Emery or bust for the Senators. And the good news is many believe he can easily get his game back in order in plenty of time to help Ottawa beat the Sabres in the East semi-final.

The Senators haven't lost confidence in him and they're going to ride Emery as far as he's able to to take them.

"He's played so many games in a row and you're going to have games where that kind of thing is going to happen," former NHL goalie John Garrett, an analyst for Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada, said yesterday.

"I really believe it's going to be quite easy for Ray Emery to bounce back from this. Look at the situation. He knows he's the guy and there's no threat of (Mike Morrison) going into the net. He knows he has to get the job done. That's a lot easier than having a guy looking over your shoulder. We're not talking about a situation like they had in Tampa with John Grahame and Sean Burke."

While Emery can't be blamed for every aspect of the Senators' Game 1 loss, they needed him to make a save with the Sabres pressing in the final minute. He wasn't able to come up with it.

Garrett noted Emery needs to have a strong performance tonight and get his team back into the series. Going down 2-0, with the next two games at Buffalo's HSBC Arena, isn't really an option.

"The longer it goes, the more the pressure is going to mount, and he can get rid of it right away by getting a win," said Garrett.

PRESSURE BUILDING

"But you have to realize the pressure on Emery is only going to build with every round. There was pressure to win the first round and he made it through that. Well, now there's even more pressure and if the Senators go another around, there will be even more pressure on him then."

Garrett, who spent part of his career with the Vancouver Canucks, said Buffalo's Ryan Miller shouldn't be walking around bragging about getting the victory, either.

In Buffalo newspapers yesterday, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff didn't rule out the possibility of using Martin Biron tonight in Game 2. He also said with three games scheduled in the next four nights, the Sabres could need both goalies.

"If (Miller) loses that game 6-5, then he's the bum," said Garrett.

Emery has a chance to get his hero status back tonight.


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