Senators hoping to gain boost from 'seventh player'
With series tied, Ottawa aims to make most of home ice advantage against Rangers
After playing the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarter-final at always raucous Madison Square Garden, the Ottawa Senators now have their chance to feel the home-ice cheers as the series shifts to Scotiabank Place for the next two contests. Game 3 is tonight, while Game 4 goes on Wednesday (both 7:30 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
While the Senators had a slightly better record on the road (21-14-6) than at home (20-17-4) during the regular season, head coach Paul MacLean — who fondly recalls the original 'whiteouts' that he saw at Winnipeg Arena during his playing days with the Jets in the 1980s — wouldn't rather be anywhere else than at Scotiabank Place tonight.
"We're looking forward to playing at home in Canada," said MacLean. "I haven't done that in a long, long time. "I'm looking forward to tonight and looking forward to it being real, real loud. It's an exciting time. The city's got a pulse to it and we're excited for the faceoff tonight."
So, too, are the Senators players.
"We hope to get an extra jump from our fans," said centre Jason Spezza. "We hope they can give us that inspirational lift and, hopefully, they show up and be loud. We started on the road and we've seen how loud it is in New York. If we can return the favour ... sometimes, it can sway games by having the fans behind you. We hope they can give us that jolt and we're excited about being home.
"We enjoy playing at home and we think our fans are going to be excited."
Added blueliner Erik Karlsson: "It's more fun to play here than away and we're looking forward to our first playoff game at home this year. Hopefully, the crowd will pump it up and get us going."
Never mind, too, that the Senators haven't won a home playoff contest since Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup final. MacLean is convinced his team can get an edge from its fans tonight.
"It can be the seventh player and when things are going really good, it can help you with momentum," he said. "And they can help you get momentum back. We just want them to be Canadian hockey fans and enjoy the game."
Red Zone lights up for playoff home opener
If you're an early arrival for tonight's Game 3, you'll find plenty to do in the 'Red Zone' plaza in front of Gate 1 at Scotiabank Place. Open two hours before puck drop, it's also the place to be to experience the game if you don't have a ticket. Then head into either Bert's Bar or Frank Finnigan's to catch all the action.
The Red Zone also features face-painting and inflatable games for the kids, along with live bands performing on an outdoor stage. As well, the Team 1200 will broadcast its radio pre-game show from the area.
Molson Canadian Hockey House is a tented area in the Red Zone in which fans can enjoy pre-game entertainment, food and beverages. You'll also get the chance to meet some Senators Alumni one hour prior to puck drop.
For regular Red Zone updates throughout the playoffs, click here.