by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators are set on taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference quarter-final series tonight when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.
"Our preparation for (Game 3) and a few adjustments we made were all carried out because people were paying attention," says Senators head coach Bryan Murray. "I think the guys are aware now of what is needed to win a playoff game."
After opening the post-season with a 4-1 victory over the Bolts at Scotiabank Place on April 21, the Senators allowed Tampa Bay to tie the series two days later, losing 4-3 in Game 2. Now after an 8-4 victory in Game 3, Ottawa is intent on making sure the Lightning, in fact, do not strike twice.
"We know Tampa is going to be re-focused," Murray said after today's pre-game skate. "It's a new game. Both teams have had losses and responded. I expect they will come out and play well tonight. It's a fresh start. We'll have nice clean uniforms and we have to go out and try and get them dirty again by playing hard."
While Jason Spezza currently leads the NHL with seven points -- one more than teammate Martin Havlat, who is tops in the goal department with four -- Murray expects continued support throughout the lineup.
"I think when you get into the playoffs you have to have balance in your lineup to score goals. Hard-working players become very, very important at this time of year. We can point our fingers at our top players and say ‘you need to do more,' but you can't do that if you don't have the people to help do it. Everybody has to be a part of it."
Game 4 roster notes
Chris Kelly (lower body injury) will be a game-time decision. Tyler Arnason will fill in if Kelly can't play. Brian Pothier will replace Christoph Schubert on the blue-line. Mike Fisher returned in Game 3 sporting a visor after being struck earlier by an errant puck. He'll play tonight wearing full face protection.