It was a sight and a scene that, quite frankly, many of them had never experienced before.
Thunderous cheers that all but blew the roof off Scotiabank Place, more than 20,000 red-clad fans waving towels in unison ... some welcome it was, indeed, to Stanley Cup playoff hockey in Ottawa.
"It was the loudest atmosphere I've ever been a part of — great fans and they did a great job," forward Bobby Butler
said of the raucous throng that greeted the Ottawa Senators for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final against the New York Rangers and kept it up for much of the night. "We just need them to keep doing that."
Senators centre Kyle Turris
got a taste of the National Hockey League playoffs with the Phoenix Coyotes last year during their first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, but nothing quite like this. He called his first post-season NHL game in Canada "really special."
"It almost gives you the chills going out and skating around for the first time," he said. "It was loud. It was something I won't forget for awhile ... it was an unbelievable atmosphere to play in."
About the only thing the Senators didn't give their loyal supporters to cheer about was a much-needed win — and a goal, for that matter. Thanks to the 39-save effort by Henrik Lundqvist, the Blueshirts made off with a 1-0 victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
Much as Monday's contest was an exercise in frustration at times, it hardly dampened the Senators' spirits. More than ever, the East's eighth-seeded team knows it can play with the top-seeded Rangers. Now it's just a matter of finding that little bit extra to finish the job.
"We can fine-tune some of the things we did (Monday), make some adjustments and if we bring that same effort, hopefully we'll get a better result," centre Jason Spezza
said following Senators practise earlier this afternoon. "If we can do the same and put a couple by Lundqvist, we'll be in good shape."
Added forward Nick Foligno
: "We don't have to do a whole lot of different things than we've already done. It's just a matter of getting to the net a little bit more."
No doubt, they'll be able to count on a certain sea of red for a helping hand. Although that only goes so far, as centre Zack Smith
"It's too bad they couldn't scream the puck into the net," he said.Alfredsson's status unchanged heading into Game 4
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
didn't practise with the team today and head coach Paul MacLean said "nothing's changed" about his status since Monday night, when he sat out against the Rangers. Alfredsson suffered a concussion Saturday in Game 2 when he took an elbow to the head from Blueshirts forward Carl Hagelin, who was later hit with a three-game suspension.
While Alfredsson took part in Monday's pre-game skate, MacLean said he had "a setback" later in the day, which led to his absence from the lineup. Asked about the possibility of his captain suiting up for Game 4, MacLean said "I'm not going to speculate."
"At this point, if he feels fine, he will (play), but there's no change to it," he said. "We're going to evaluate it and see what it's like in the morning. If he feels better and he feels good, we'll evaluate the lineup and make decisions then."
Though they'd obviously prefer to have their leader in the lineup, Monday's effort showed again the Senators have the ability to use adversity as a rallying point.
"We'd prefer to have him in the lineup," said Foligno. "He's our captain and he brings such an element to the offensive zone, and (there's) just his calming presence when he's out there. He's been around for a long time and has a lot of experience in certain situations. I thought (Monday) we showed we can play just as well without him. That's not to say we don't want him in the lineup, but we have a lot of depth on this team and can do a job when he's out. It's a good sign."Around the boards
The wait continues for Jakob Silfverberg
and Bryas IF, which dropped a 3-2 decision to Skelleftea today in Game 5 of the Swedish Elitserien's championship series. Brynas still leads the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Thursday in Gavle. Silfverberg, a second-round pick (39th overall) by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, notched his 12th goal of the playoffs during the game, equalling a Swedish league record set by Alfredsson in 2004-05 during the NHL's lockout season, when he led Frolunda to the crown. Brynas is aiming to win its first playoff crown since 1999 ... Goaltender Craig Anderson
and defenceman Erik Karlsson
took "maintenance" days off practice today ... Fewer than 100 tickets remain for Game 4.