Sens one step away

Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils in the first...

Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils in the first period of Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal Wednesday May 2, 2007. (Sean Kilpatrick/Ottawa Sun)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

The Senators have their hands wrapped around the necks of the New Jersey Devils.

Tonight, they can officially squeeze the life out of the Devils.

Holding a 3-1 lead, the Senators can book a trip to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since they were eliminated by New Jersey in Game 7 in 2003.

After holding a spirited workout yesterday at Scotiabank Place, the Senators packed up for the one-hour flight to East Rutherford and they're determined to make Monday's scheduled Game 6 unnecessary by sending the Devils packing.

If the Senators are able to knock off the Devils, they'll face either the Buffalo Sabres or New York Rangers in Round 3 starting late next week. But the Senators aren't looking ahead ... at least not for public record.

"We got to stay focused. We know what we've got to do," said centre Mike Fisher. "We know we're going in there with a purpose.

"We have to have our best game because we respect them and we know what they're capable of doing.

"We just know we have to have a strong effort. They're going to come with their best game. We're not overconfident. We know what's at stake here."

It'd be easy for the Devils to start planning their vacations. But not so fast. Some of these New Jersey players have three Stanley Cup rings ... and they have Martin Brodeur, who has been mediocre in this series, but is capable of being a difference maker.

"(Brodeur) is that good of a goalie and a player," said captain Patrik Elias. "He's the best goalie in the league, maybe the best goalie ever. We know he's going to come out with his best game.

"We cannot question his effort any night. We believe in him. I hope (the Senators) get overconfident."

That won't be the case. The Devils are counting on the fact they were one of the 20 teams in 215 attempts that has been able to come back from a 3-1 deficit -- beating the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern final in 2000. New Jersey went on to win the Stanley Cup.

"We respect them too much (to count the Devils out)," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "They were one of the last teams to come back from being down 3-1. They're not going to quit. They have Marty Brodeur in net. They have a lot of factors pointing their way and we've to make sure that we try to get it done.

MORAL VICTORIES

"They're going to be looking for any edge they can get. If they get the first goal, they're going to think they have momentum. They are going to try to take moral victories out of everything.

"When you've got a team down, you've got to make sure you end it. If we give them life, they may have a chance. If you get rid of them early, you can put yourself in a good spot."

The Senators are 5-0 when they are up 3-1 in a series, but 4-1 in Game 5s. They needed six games to close out the Devils in 1998.

"We have to approach the same way as New Jersey," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We have to be a team that desperately wants to win a hockey game."

And a series.


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