Time on Sens' side

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Every 33 years, right?

That's the span between the only two times in NHL history that teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after being down 3-0.

The teams -- all together now, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders -- are mentioned every time a team finds itself in the 0-3 hole, like the Senators.

So, here we are 33 years after the Islanders' comeback win over the, hmmm, Pittsburgh Penguins.

The timespan was mentioned to Senators coach Bryan Murray.

"What was I doing 33 years ago?" he mused.

Well, actually it was 32 years ago, in the spring of 1976, when Murray's Rockland Junior A Nationals rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Guelph Platers in the regional playoffs for the Centennial Cup. The Nats went on to sweep the Charlottetown Islanders in the semi-finals and beat the Spruce Grove Mets (coached by Mark Messier's dad, Doug) in the final.

As Murray thought about what he will say to his team today, he remembered what happened on the day of the fourth game against Guelph.

Some of his players wanted to check out the local adult entertainment over lunch. They were told to stick to soft drinks.

"One of the guys had a beer at noon hour the day of the game and I found out about it," said Murray. "We had a fragile group then and right now it's a little bit like that. The approach is sort of what I have to figure out for (today's) meeting.

"I told them (the Nationals) they could go watch this show, but they couldn't have any beer. One guy had a beer and my assistant coach came and told me. We had a team meeting right after and for an hour and a half or two hours, I said a lot.

"You selfish (bleeps)," said Murray, "basically, I said 'you quit. I asked you not to do one thing and you're quitting? Wake up.' That's basically what I said. I've probably told that story too many times."

The Nats won that game 4-3, then won the next game 5-3 and returned to Rockland, where they won Game 6. Was there any doubt about Game 7? The Nats won 6-1.

"It was a great group of guys," said Murray. "You remember guys who come back and win things like that."

The Islanders came back against the Penguins in 1975, despite trailing for more than 153 minutes of the 180 minutes played in the first three games.

I remember talking a few years ago to Bill Torrey, the GM of that Islanders team, and Chico Resch, who took over the goaltending chores from Billy Smith for Game 4, about that win in 1975.

"Billy played the first three games and it wasn't his fault, goaltending wasn't putting us in the hole," said Torrey, "but (coach) Al (Arbour) felt a change was necessary. Chico won Game 4 and so you go with the same guy again. And he won the next one."

Also: "Pittsburgh got it in the back of their heads that they had us whipped," said Torrey.

Neither of those two things apply here, though. Senators goaltender Martin Gerber has been their best player. Taking him out isn't an option.

And there's no reason to believe these Penguins are overconfident. They were laughing and enjoying their game of "Keep-Up" with a soccer ball yesterday (in front of that mural of the beaten Pens shaking hands with the Senators after their series last spring), while a few feet away the Senators discussed their immediate future in their funereal dressing room, the Penguins' shouts drifting through the open doors.

"I don't think we expected to be up 3-0 so early," said Penguins winger Marian Hossa yesterday.

You know what he means.

You get the sense these Penguins, unlike their 1975 predecessors, aren't thinking they've got these Senators "whipped."

Time might be on the Senators' side if you believe the 33-year thing. Not much else is.


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