|Captain Daniel Alfredsson and the Senators would love to complete a Pittsburgh sweep of the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series with the Penguins (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images). |
Never mind just being happy to go home with a split.
Forgive the Ottawa Senators if they sound a little greedy, but they'd love nothing better than to leave Mellon Arena tonight (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) with a 2-0 stranglehold in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
"It's a real big game for us momentum-wise," centre Jason Spezza
said following the Senators' pre-game skate in advance of their Game 2 matchup with the Stanley Cup champions. "It can keep the momentum on our side or give (the Penguins) a bit of momentum. We’ve got to be ready tonight.
"We've put the first one behind us. We were happy with the win (on Wednesday in Game 1), now we’re looking for two wins."
Not that anyone in the Senators dressing room thinks a sweep in the Steel City will be easy. It's all but assumed the Penguins will elevate their game beyond the one they showed in Ottawa's 5-4 victory in the series opener.
"It’s a tough one to win, there’s no question," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
. "We know they’re going to be a desperate team tonight. We’ve got to make sure we can come out and just play a really good game.
"We can’t worry about the result, (we have to) just make it really hard for them all over the ice. And hopefully, if we get the lead, we’ll put a lot of pressure on them … a good start for us is important."
Added head coach Cory Clouston: "(The Penguins) are probably just going to elevate their game. I don't think they're going to change it a whole lot ... We expect them to play a fairly similar game, but maybe just a little more intense."
"It’s a tough one to win, there’s no question. We know they’re going to be a desperate team tonight. We’ve got to make sure we can come out and just play a really good game. We can’t worry about the result, (we have to) just make it really hard for them all over the ice. And hopefully, if we get the lead, we’ll put a lot of pressure on them … a good start for us is important." - Daniel Alfredsson
The Senators also realize the need to tidy up their own performance. Almost since the final buzzer to end Game 1, Clouston has been promising "we'll be better" in the next one. Given what Ottawa is expecting to face tonight in front of another loud sellout crowd at the Igloo, it's pretty much mandatory to add to that opening success.
"We feel like we were a little sloppy with our system," said Spezza. "For us to beat these guys, we've got to be real tight. We feel like we've got a lot more to give, so it should be a good game tonight."
If all goes as planned, that'll go a long way toward the Senators bringing a 2-0 series lead back to Scotiabank Place for Game 3 on Sunday (6:30 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
"We’ve got to have the same mindset as Game 1," said centre Mike Fisher. "We can’t look too far ahead. We can’t be happy with just one game. We’ve got to make sure we’re focused and ready. We can’t take the night off.
"It’s going to be much harder and we’ve got to be ready for that."Michalek 'disappointed' by early end to season
Senators forward Milan Michalek
spoke in sombre tones earlier today as he faced the media
for the first time since learning his season had been cut short by a torn left ACL suffered in the second period of Game 1.
"It's really disappointing for me," said the 25-year-old Michalek. "I got injured a month ago and I tried to come back and it was really hard. Unfortunately, I got hurt (Wednesday) and it feels bad now."
Michalek knew almost immediately that the knee "was done" when a Penguins player fell on it. The ACL was partially torn in a collision with the net on March 18 in Atlanta, he doesn't regret trying to give it a go in the post-season.
"They asked me if I wanted to try it and I said ‘for sure, it’s the playoffs. This is what we play for,’" said Michalek. "I tried it and it felt good when I was playing but unfortunately, one guy from Pittsburgh fell on my knee and it tore all the way down."
The Czech Republic native won't return until training camp.
Around the boards
Brian Elliott makes his second career playoff start tonight and Clouston believes the goaltender should bring a more confident game to the rink. "I thought he played very well at times (in Game 1)," said Clouston. "He made some key saves to make sure that we didn't give up the lead, and to me that was the most important thing for Brian." ... With Michalek out, Ryan Shannon draws into the lineup this evening ... Fewer than 50 tickets remain for Sunday's Game 3 at Scotiabank Place, while about 1,500 are left for Game 4, set for Tuesday night (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).