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Homegrown Emery gives Sens strong goaltending @NHL

OTTAWA (AP) - Daniel Alfredsson has seen a lot of goalies line up behind him during the Ottawa Senators' 10 consecutive playoff appearances.

After watching the likes of Ron Tugnutt, Damian Rhodes, Tom Barasso and Patrick Lalime come and go, Alfredsson and the Senators seem to have finally found the playoff goaltending they've always sought in Ray Emery.

"The experience he had last year and the consistency he's shown this year, it gives you confidence," Alfredsson said. "Playing a tough game on the road, coming up as big as he did is obviously huge."

Last year's experience? Emery started each of Ottawa's 10 postseason games after he took over as the starter when Dominik Hasek suffered a season-ending injury during the Olympics in Turin.

This season? Emery was 33-16-6 in 58 games, with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

The tough road game? Emery's 23-save performance in Tuesday's 2-1 win in Pittsburgh which gave the Senators a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

"I want to win," Emery said Wednesday after practice at Scotiabank Place. "I'm not too concerned about what guys did in the past or what the team's done in the past. I want to win just as much as everyone else in this room.

"I think it's kind of blown out of proportion how the team's had some playoff failures. We've been in the playoffs a lot more than 90 percent of the teams in the league so they've done pretty well for themselves but they haven't won, so that's definitely our goal this year."

Chosen 99th overall in the 2001 draft, Emery is the first No. 1 goalie Ottawa has developed in its 15-year-history.

"You look at teams that have success in the playoffs and that's usually the first place you look - goaltending - and that was a case in point last night," Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. "It wasn't our best game but 'Razor' gave us the opportunity to win and we backed that up."

Ottawa, which hosts Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday, has gone on to win each of the four previous series it has led 3-1.

While the Senators clearly didn't play their best game of the series Tuesday, Penguins coach Michel Therrien saw his team's best outing go unrewarded.

"We thought that after breaking down the game, there was no doubt that was our best effort," Therrien said. "It was our best game of the playoffs and we've got to make sure we try to play the same type of game on the road. We understand that it's going to be difficult. This is a team that's played really well at home. We won one game over there. It was nice to win that game, but we know we are capable of winning there again."

Pittsburgh's only win in the series so far came in Game 2, when it recovered from being badly outplayed in the second period to tie the game twice in the third before Sidney Crosby scored the eventual winner midway through the period.

Crosby, the youngest scoring leader in league history, sounded determined to extend his first playoff run beyond Thursday after he and most of his teammates took part in an optional practice Wednesday.

"We're going to leave it all out there," Crosby said. "That's all we can do. I don't think we can worry too much about the result. We need to focus on how we play. Sometimes you get caught up in the result and you don't focus on how you played. We just got to make sure we're worried about that, and I think we're all confident about our game."

Senators right wing Chris Neil expects he and his teammates will face another hard-fought battle and that his team's depth will help them prevail.

"They came out there ready to play last game," Neil said. "We got off to a shaky start. For two periods we didn't play our greatest and we were able to come out and play a good third period and win a hockey game. That says a lot about our hockey team.

"We've got a well-rounded group of guys and if our top line doesn't score, we'll get one from our second line or our third line. Guys chip in here and there so that's great."

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