Murray rallies troops

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- Bryan Murray appealed to the Senators' sense of pride yesterday.

With the Senators trailing the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final 1-0 to the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa's coach begged the players to return to the form that has made them successful.

That's why before the Senators went on the ice for an optional skate, Murray told the players they had to step up to challenge the Ducks -- something that didn't happen in the series-opening 3-2 loss.

"They were all upset," said Murray yesterday. "As I said (to the players), this is the Stanley Cup final. This is the time to meet challenges and they know they were a long way from playing like they can play as a group.

"We did some things we hadn't done in a long time. So I expect the way we play the game and follow the game plan will be better (tonight)."

It's only one game into the Senators' first modern-day appearance in the Stanley Cup final, but going down 2-0 with the series shifting back to Scotiabank Place for Game 3 Saturday isn't an attractive option.

"You just don't want to go back home 2-0," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. "The pressure is certainly on us a little bit more to win that second game and go home with a split. We're certainly going to have to work a lot harder for it."

'WEREN'T REALLY SHARP'

"For whatever reason, we weren't really sharp.

"We haven't made excuses all year. We're not going to start now and we just have to be better.

"We've gotten a chance to see what they're all about and we're going to adjust to that."

The Senators need to get more from their top line of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza to win. Murray admitted he toyed with the idea of breaking them up, but didn't want to make a "panic" decision.

"We played our worst game of the playoffs and it's obvious we can be better," said Spezza.

"We don't want to be down 2-0 going home. We just want to make sure we have a better effort. We didn't like how we played.

"(Playing under) adversity has been a strength of this team all year. As soon as we felt adversity, or backs against the wall, we brought our best. I don't anticipate anything different."

The Senators didn't respond well to the physical pounding from the Ducks.

So can they respond and go pound for pound in Game 2?

Let's put it this way: If they don't, the chances of the Cup making a trip to Parliament Hill will be slim.

"I don't think they did anything we didn't expect," said winger Antoine Vermette. "We just know we have to improve our play."

As much as the Senators talked about beating themselves, the Ducks are willing to take credit for bringing the post-season powerhouse back to earth.

"They'll play much closer to the way they've been playing (in Game 2)," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "They feel that they turned the puck over way too many times, they didn't cycle the puck enough and they did some things uncharacteristic of the previous three series.

"We know they're an excellent team and we respect them, but we think we had something to do with (the way they played)."


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