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Senators remain confident entering Game 5 against Rangers

Ottawa certain it can rebound after back-to-back losses in New York

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators were on message Friday, one day after losing their second consecutive game to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

They were not panicked. They were not worried about momentum swings. They were not concerned about where the series had gone after having a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series when they arrived in New York and leaving with it tied 2-2.

"If you would have told me we'd be here, second round, 2-2 against the Rangers and we're going home, playing a two-out-of-three, I don't think anybody here wouldn't have taken it," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "If we're not positive we're not very bright."

That might be so for the Senators. But from the outside it's hard not to be a bit more concerned. The Senators won Games 1 and 2 at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa despite leading for 4:11 of the third period in Game 1 and not at all in Game 2, a double-overtime comeback win.

They lost Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden by the same score, 4-1.

 

[RELATED: Complete Senators-Rangers series coverage]

 

Which brings them to Game 5 at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), when they have to right themselves and figure out how to get back to a place where they can defeat the Rangers.

"Every game starts back at zero," Boucher said. "We couldn't have more momentum after the second game. There is no momentum. It's back at zero, start again, back at the drawing board."

It was mentioned repeatedly that the Senators are returning to their building, where they will get an emotional lift from their fans.

But it's not entirely clear how that will solve their current issues, most of which revolve around not scoring enough. The Senators have scored two goals in their past two games after scoring six in Game 2, and have not had the kind of push on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist they did in the first period of Game 1, when they had 21 shots on goal.

They can't expect that kind of offensive pressure every period, of course. But the Senators need more than they've had the past two games.

Video: Rangers tie the series up on home ice

"We've got to up our level of play and get back to playing to the level that we're capable, but right now it's 2-2," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "You tell us that at the start of the series, we're going to take it. Now we're here."

Still, they need offense.

"We do have to do a better job of creating some more around their net," Phaneuf said. "Their goalie's been playing very well, as he has all year, and as he has for his whole career. The biggest thing with him is, like the other top goalies, that you've got to get traffic on him.

"We seem to have been getting chances, but we haven't been able to get the second chances. I think that's when we're effective around the net, is when we get the second chances or screened shots, tips. So us as [defensemen] have to do a better job of getting pucks through. We've been getting too many pucks blocked. Give them credit."

That sentiment was echoed by forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, one of the Senators' bright spots in the series. Including his four goals in Game 2 and one in Game 3, Pageau is responsible for five of Ottawa's 10 goals against the Rangers.

"I think it's just from our battle level, it's got to be at the top every game, every shift, for 60 minutes," Pageau said. "I think that's going to be in our game plan, for sure, to put a lot more pucks on net with traffic too. So it's going to hurt, it's going to need some sacrifice to get there. But I'm sure everyone's willing to do it."

The Senators admit the Rangers were the better team in the two games in New York, and that's why the series is tied 2-2. But the players remain confident in themselves. They know they have reached this point in the postseason for a reason. They might not have played the way they wanted to in New York the past two games, but that hardly means anything is over.

So even if others may have wavered, Ottawa has not.

"They've written us off before it started, before the entire series started," Boucher said. "We were going to lose in four or five [games]. We're still there. So we never let anybody tell us, from the outside, how we should feel because we would have been down-and-out pretty early in the season. And we're still here."

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