Time to shut the door

Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins are in a hole down three games to one against the Ottawa...

Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins are in a hole down three games to one against the Ottawa Senators. (Sun File/Tony Caldwell)

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Nothing fazes kids these days, does it?

"Whatever," they shrug.

"Been there, done that," they say.

Between all the rhetoric of "taking it one game at a time" from the adults, the latter expression could also serve as a rally cry for the young lads in the visitors' dressing room at Scotiabank Place tonight.

By now, they've been informed the franchise they represent has, indeed, been there, done that.

Of the 214 teams that have trailed a best-of-7, NHL playoff series 3-1, only 20 have come back to win it. The 1991-92 and 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins are two of them.

Both times, Pittsburgh turned the tables on the Washington Capitals. In the spring of '95, current Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar was with the Caps.

In '92, Washington was coached by Terry Murray -- the brother of Senators bench boss Bryan Murray.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Bryan Murray said yesterday, remembering full well the painful experience of his sibling. "You can't open the door for anybody."

The Senators built their 3-1 series lead over Sidney Crosby's Penguins by boldly marching into Mellon Arena and claiming back-to-back wins. They are now poised to advance to Round 2 for just the fifth time in the 10 straight seasons they've made it to the playoffs.

The Senators have had a 3-1 series lead four times. They have gone on to win each, and have a 3-1 record in Game 5s.

"This will be a big test for us ... the last one is always the hardest, they say," said winger Mike Comrie, who in seven NHL seasons has made it to the playoffs twice -- and never past the first round. "We're going to approach Game 5 like we did the last four. We need to work hard."

And remain disciplined. In stealing both games in Steeltown, the Senators were a perfect 9-for-9 on the penalty kill. The Penguins had a league-high 95 power-play goals during the regular season.

"It's a testament to how much the guys want to win ... what they're willing to sacrifice to help the team," said goalie Ray Emery, who not only starred in Game 4 but has absorbed much abuse from net-driving Penguins without striking back.

It has been a "team" effort that has given the Senators a stranglehold on the Penguins. Emery has played well. Captain Daniel Alfredsson has provided leadership, with his scoring, his work ethic and, according to Comrie, with his words between periods 2 and 3 Tuesday.

While Murray blasted the players for their lack of "attitude," Comrie said "Alfie was calming us down."

"We needed to remind ourselves that, even though through the first 40 minutes we weren't that great, we were still tied," said Comrie, who is prominent on a supporting cast that has stepped up in the post-season.

Most importantly, however, has been the ability of the Senators to keep Crosby from really cutting loose. The NHL's regular-season scoring champ has three goals and five points in the series, but he was held off the sheet in Game 4.

Defenceman Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov took all five of Ottawa's penalties in the game, suggesting the shutdown pairing is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Crosby and his line from beating the Senators.

Phillips, who has popped Crosby a couple of times in the nose this series, figures the Penguins will make some adjustments tonight.

"The last game they stretched their wingers out, tried to back us off," said Phillips. "We had to do a better job of taking (Crosby) away, slowing him down. We have to keep playing better hockey. Their backs are against the wall and they're going to come at us with everything. We have to be prepared to play our best game of the series."


Videos

Photos