|Head coach Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators look to earn a berth in the second round of the playoffs tomorrow. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
While a trip to the sunny south might be welcomed for Canadian-based NHL teams during the frigid winter months of the regular season, the Ottawa Senators would prefer to stay clear of Florida for the rest of the 2006 playoffs. Leading their Eastern Conference quarter-final series 3-1 against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sens will look to close out the series tomorrow at Scotiabank Place.
"We certainly talked about not automatically having to come back to Tampa again," Sens coach Bryan Murray said of preparation heading into Game 4. "We know what we have to do. I believe (the players) are all on the same page as far as being winners."
While the Lightning practised at 2 p.m. at Scotiabank Place on Friday, Murray gave his team the day off as a reward for its 5-2 victory in Game 4 on Thursday.
Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson and Murray spoke with the media, however, on Friday.. The captain knows what his team has to do to eliminate the Bolts tomorrow.
"When we're skating well, we are hitting more people. It's when we're not moving that we're not getting to people, and it looks like we're more passive. We don't want to go down to Florida again, there's no question. We have to have the mindset that this Game 5 is the biggest game of the year for us. If we have that mindset, I think we'll come out strong in the first period and set the tone right away."
During its modern-day history, Ottawa has won all three series that they have led 3-1.
In 1998, Ottawa lost the fifth game of its first-round series against the New Jersey Devils, after taking a 3-1 lead, but rebounded in Game 6 with a 4-2 victory. It was the Senators' first playoff series win in modern-day history.
Four years later, the Sens opened the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers with a loss but rebounded with four straight victories.
In 2003, the Senators pulled off the same trick against the New York Islanders.