|Senators defenceman Wade Redden says a big part of the club's post-season success relies on everyone chipping in defensively.|
by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators look to take a 3-1 series lead against the New Jersey Devils tonight, just like they did against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1. In team playoff history, Ottawa is a perfect 5-0 in closing out a series when taking a 3-1 lead. The players know how important it is to not give the Devils any momentum tonight.
"It's definitely a big swing game," Senators centre Jason Spezza says. "If you get up 3-1, you get three opportunities to close out a team. If not, you're right back to square one and you're playing the best two out of three. We have to be really focused for this one."
Ottawa won Games 1 and 3 by scores of 5-4 and 2-0, respectively, and lost Game 2 in double overtime, 3-2. They expect another tight match in Game 4.
"We know they're not going to lay over and just let us beat them," Senators defenceman Tom Preissing says. "We're basically looking at this as a must-win game. It's clichÃ©, but it's basically how we've looked at the entire playoffs thus far."
The Senators can be confident in knowing they don't have to change that much in order to be successful tonight. They've been happy with their effort thus far. Senators centre Mike Fisher says forcing the play remains a big priority for his team.
"I think we're pressuring them and not giving them a whole lot of time. That's been really important. They can move the puck around well, but if we're right on top of them, it makes it that much harder to do it. We're getting in the lanes and blocking shots, too. We're a pressure team. We want to use our speed and not sit back."
Senators forwards Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson have led the team offensively during the playoffs but, maybe more importantly, they have also contributed to the team's defensive concept, which has featured everyone chipping in at their own end of the ice.
"We want to make sure we keep getting bodies back and not give (New Jersey) odd-man rushes. Just battle real hard," says Wade Redden, the Senators' alternate captain.
Ottawa boasts a record of 5-0 when scoring first this post-season, 30-10 in team history. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson realizes the importance of getting an early goal tonight, but says his team is ready for anything.
"You just go out there and try to get off to a good start. There are so many factors that can play into this. Penalties. Bounces here and there. Emotionally, you can't get attached to thinking the game is going to turn out this way or that way. You've just got to play as it comes and adapt to whatever situations occur."