Senators 'in a real good spot' heading to Game 7
With one more chance to eliminate Rangers, team remains confident it can finish job
Sure, they'd like to have finished the job in front of the home folks.
But the Ottawa Senators are anything but down and out about the idea of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the New York Rangers heading to a deciding Game 7 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
"Game 7 in Madison Square Garden ... the stage doesn't get much bigger than that," a buoyant Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said earlier today in the wake of Monday's disappointing 3-2 home-ice loss to the Blueshirts. "It's a great opportunity. We still feel we've got a good chance."
The Senators certainly had a golden opportunity to polish off an epic upset Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at Scotiabank Place that was in a loud, celebratory frame of mind long before the opening faceoff. Instead, they'll need to try one more time on Thursday against the Rangers, who are 3-0 all-time in Game 7s at MSG. Mind you, the last one played there happened 18 long years ago, when New York held off the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 final to end a 54-year Stanley Cup drought.
As for the Senators, they've already parked Monday's game in the rear-view mirror.
"We got over last night," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean. "We look forward to Thursday night and going there tomorrow. We have an opportunity, in Game 7, to win a playoff series. They're still the (No. 1) seed and we're still the eight seed, so we think we're in a real good spot."
Added goaltender Craig Anderson: "We've put ourselves in a position where we want to be. We've given ourselves an opportunity to win this series — not once, but twice. This is going to be our second go-round at trying to end the series. We feel pretty confident about it."
There is surely plenty of reason to think that way. The Senators finished the regular season with a better road than away record, and they've taken two of the three previous games played earlier in this series in Manhattan. Both the team and Anderson, in particular, own a long string of success at the "world's most famous arena."
Given the stakes at hand, watch for an already intense series to raise the bar even further.
"It's pretty funny to say that, but I can see it," forward Nick Foligno said when asked if the temperature of the series still has room to rise. "The intensity is going to get raised and there's a lot of emotion involved. When you see a guy seven times in a row, there's going to be battles that ensue. You develop a bit of a dislike for each other and that's going to be the case in New York.
"But we have to make sure we channel that in the right direction and use it to our advantage in battling hard and make sure we're the team outworking the Rangers."
At the series' outset, few gave the Senators a chance to knock off the East's top regular-season team. Ask them if they'd have taken a sudden-death Game 7 back then and no doubt the answer would have been a resounding yes.
"We know we've had some success in that building and it's a perfect situation for us," said centre Zack Smith. "We're all right with going back to MSG, too. It's a great rink to play in and we're still in that underdog role right now. If you had said at the start of the series that (we'd get) one game to take it all in Game 7, we'd take it."
Said Foligno: "This is what we want to do. We'd (prefer) to win it in four straight, but this is our opportunity. We had one last night and we didn't get the job done. We're going to learn from our mistakes and now we have another great opportunity to do it. I think the guys are looking forward to getting the job done."