|Senators winger Chris Neil works on his stick yesterday at practice at Scotiabank Place. (Sun Media/Errol Mcgihon)
While the Buffalo Sabres are battling almost insurmountable odds, Daniel Alfredsson's dream is much closer to reality.
"I've always had a dream of winning the Stanley Cup in Ottawa," said the Senators captain yesterday.
The Senators are one win away from making their first modern-day visit to the Stanley Cup final. Up 3-0 on the regular-season champs after a 1-0 victory in Game 3 Monday, the Senators will be presented with the Prince of Wales Trophy by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly tonight if they beat the Sabres.
The Senators then can start preparing to face either Anaheim or Detroit in the final, which would start between May 26-29.
"(A sweep) would mean we're going onto the finals, but it's not a sweep that we're really looking at, it's four wins," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. "That being said, it's not going to be easy. We don't want to be going back to Buffalo and giving them life in the series."
With all the excitement around them, the Senators are trying to stay calm. They can't get caught up in the hype.
"We've just got to be focused, bring out a good effort and, hopefully, put the series away," said centre Jason Spezza. "Look, we could have been overconfident (up 2-0) going into Game 3 and we weren't. We realize the opportunity we have. Guys play 20 years and don't get a crack at the Stanley Cup final and we're getting a chance to get a crack."
LONGEST OF ODDS
The Sabres are facing the longest of odds. In 258 attempts, only three teams in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL have come back to win a series after being down 3-0. The 2004 Boston Red Sox, 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders have all completed the feat.
Ottawa was down 3-0 to the Sabres going into Game 4 last year at the HSBC Arena and forced a Game 5 back at Scotiabank Place, where the club lost on a Jason Pominville overtime goal.
"They're going to try to focus on one game at a time. They have nothing to lose right now," said Alfredsson. "They're just going to try to go in and play hard and I'm sure they're going to play looser than they did (Monday), but that doesn't change our attitude. We're going to try to be strong as a five-man unit when we're out there, all four lines, playing smart, hard and physical."
"Winning the next game is what you have to worry about and that's what we're looking at right now," said Ottawa coach Bryan Murray.