OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators played well on the road during the regular season, finishing 22-17-2. They were even better in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins, winning each of the three games at TD Garden.
However, their results at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have not been good. Neither was their play. That needs to change Tuesday, when the Senators play in New York for Game 6. If it doesn't, the Senators will be in Ottawa for Game 7 on Thursday for the right to advance to the Conference Final.
"We obviously can't look like we did the two games there, or else there's no chance for us," coach Guy Boucher said Sunday.
The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 after rallying for a 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 on Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre. Boucher's task now is to figure out why their success in Ottawa hasn't carried over. He's still looking for answers.
"I don't know what it is," Boucher said. "We certainly are not eating the right things because we're not doing very well there. We did OK during the year [1-1-0], but we haven't looked good there, whether it's the intimidation of atmosphere, the fans. I guess we'll have to figure it out."
The Senators packed up Sunday and headed for New York, where they lost in Game 3 and 4, each by a 4-1 score, and saw their 2-0 series lead turn into a 2-2 tie. They returned to Ottawa for Game 5 and looked reinvigorated, earning the win on a goal by forward Kyle Turris at 6:28 of overtime.
Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Turris goes five-hole for OT win
"I don't know why we weren't successful there," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "I think that they're doing a good job of neutralizing us at certain times and they were frustrating us a bit, but we've got to fight through that, just like they're fighting through the things that we do to frustrate them. So we've just got to jump on the wagon and bring this with us to New York on Tuesday."
They could see the differences in their play at home, even after trailing by two goals in the first 5:13 of the first period on Saturday. The Senators did not get impatient. They did not change their game plan. They continued to push -- "stayed ourselves," as Boucher put it.
There are other explanations, too, like the one offered by center Derick Brassard, formerly of the Rangers, after Game 5: "We just have to bring [this game] on the road, just have fun with it. I think we were a little too tight there, a little too serious. We just have to go back and have fun.
"We're just going there to play hockey, which is a lot of fun. We have to be confident."
But playing with confidence won't be easy, given the way the Senators played at Madison Square earlier in the series, including the frustration that boiled over in the scrum-filled final minutes of Game 4.
They want no part of coming back to Ottawa for a Game 7. They will do anything to prevent that. But can they replicate some of what worked in Game 5?
Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Stone slides a rebound past Lundqvist
They did what they needed to do at home, knowing the problems they've had in New York. They put themselves in the position they wanted to be in. They allowed themselves the ability to figure out New York, figure out what they didn't show up, as Brassard said, or were flat, as forward Mark Stone said.
"We're not kidding ourselves; we needed to win [Game 5] because we know it's going to be very difficult there," Boucher said. "We certainly expect the next game to be even better than the first game they played there. So that's what we have to figure out: How we're going to be better. But definitely we can't be like we were the last two times there.
"To even think of getting the result that we want, I think right now we know how difficult it is, it will be, to win there."