May 15, 2007
It's the final countdownSens have stranglehold on series
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media
From a sea of red, a thundering chant of "Go Sens Go" erupted in the dying minutes of last night's game at Scotiabank Place.
But the real celebration is still one sweet victory away for the Senators. Ottawa pulled out to a 3-0 lead in the East final with a 1-0 win and a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the horizon.
The 20,171 spectators went wild as the Senators moved within one victory securing a spot in the NHL final for the first time in team history. That could happen as early as tomorrow's Game 4.
The Senators would like nothing better than to win the series at home.
"We'd like to (win) it at home," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "You don't ever expect to be up 3-0 on anybody, especially against the President's Trophy winners, but we're not shocked.
"This team has a lot of confidence right now. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing. Yes, we've got them in a bit of a hole, but they're not going to give up. We were in that similar hole last year and we got a game out of it."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who looks like he's on a mission to lead the Senators to the Cup, scored the goal that turned out to be the winner. Senators goalie Ray Emery wasn't forced to make a lot of saves (15), but he was there when it counted.
"It was nice to get that one," said Alfredsson. "I was just going to the front of the net waiting for a bounce and it came right to the front."
"We played a great defensive game. They didn't really generate many chances," said Emery. "It was definitely a game where you have to remind yourself to stay focused and mentally sharp because you never know when they're going to get a chance. We're a normally a good defensive team, but that was exceptional."
Only the 1942 Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, but the Sabres are going to need a miracle to even force a Game 5 Saturday at the HSBC Arena.
The Senators are getting the big saves from Emery, top-notch penalty killing and those wonderful "bounces" that coaches always talk about making the difference.
It was a huge bounce that resulted in the only goal for the Senators and broke a scoreless tie at 13:40 of the second. Just when it looked like coach Bryan Murray's words about Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller's inadequacies were going to come back to haunt him, Alfredsson finally opened the scoring.
After Heatley blasted a shot from the top of the circle that missed the net, a falling Miller could do nothing as the puck bounced off his back and headed toward the net, where Alfredsson was standing to put it home.
That was what this crowd had been waiting for all night and they went crazy.
Alfredsson was working his magic at both ends of the ice. Only moments later, Buffalo's Derek Roy tried to do a wraparound with Emery out of position and Alfredsson was there to make the stop.
Really, all the Sabres will have to do at the end of this series is look back at their brutal power play which was 0-for-6 in Game 3.
"You've gotta remain positive," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We know we're doing it against a really good opponent. I said before the series, they're very good.
"They were very good in the second half of the year and in the first two playoff series. It's going to take something special, but you have to believe and you have to go back to situations during the year and we put some good streaks together."