Check out the NHL game notes for Game 6 between the Senators and Penguins.
|Goaltender Pascal Leclaire and the Senators are back at Scotiabank Place tonight, hoping the home fan support can help propel them to a series-tying victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
For the most part, it's been the anti-homer series.
But the way the Ottawa Senators see it, playing for their playoff lives one more time at Scotiabank Place sure beats the alternative. And they'd like to enjoy the ride tonight in front of the raucous, towel-waving throng that is eager to greet them for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
In most eyes, the Senators defied the odds by just getting this opportunity to extend their season. It took surviving an epic triple-overtime battle in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, which reduced the Penguins' edge in the best-of-seven affair to 3-2. With another victory this evening, Ottawa would send the series back to Mellon Arena for Game 7 on Tuesday night.
While Scotiabank Place is surely the place this team wants to be in this circumstance, home hasn't exactly been sweet for teams in the series. The Penguins won both games played so far in Ottawa, while the Senators are 2-1 at Mellon Arena. The Senators have also dropped five straight playoff contests at home, dating back to Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup final.
"Maybe it's just the pressure," Senators forward Nick Foligno
said when asked to explain the road teams' dominance to date. "When you’re at home and things aren’t going your way, maybe you feel a bit more pressure. But we’re excited to come back. We know we let a few slip away at home here and we want to make amends for that.
"I’m sure we’re going to come back with a great effort and just really work hard and try to get the jump on them."
"We’re still in the same situation. We know if we don’t win tonight, we’re going home. The win in Pittsburgh was good for us. It gave us a little confidence and we feel good about ourselves, but we’re still really aware of what’s in front of us. It is what it is, but we do feel confident and we’re excited about getting another chance." - Pascal Leclaire
The start will indeed be crucial tonight. In both games they've won in the series, the Senators held the lead after the first period. And grabbing the early edge figures to keep the loud crowd in the game, another boost that might help a team coming off nearly two full games of hockey on Thursday night.
"(Pittsburgh) has gotten early leads on here and we've tried to play catchup," said centre Mike Fisher. "That's not an easy way to play, so we want to get off to a good start, make sure the crowd's in it and we get that first goal and never look back."
They've also put Thursday's gritty performance behind them, although captain Daniel Alfredsson
believes it's something the Senators can draw on tonight in another must-win contest.
"Any time you’re in a situation where your back is against the wall as it was for us — we knew we had to come together and put out a gutsy effort — that helps, there’s no question," he said. "We’re still with our backs against the wall today as well, but we faced that situation already. I thought we handled it really good. Does it mean we’re going to do that tonight? I hope so, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. But I think it gives us the confidence to out there with the right attitude.
"We know we can’t go out there and just play okay. We know we can’t afford mistakes, or too many of them, because the season (will be) over. So we’ve got to play a real good game for 60 minutes, at least, and we know that."
Indeed, it'll still be a monumental task against the Stanley Cup champions, who threw a whopping 120 shots toward the Ottawa net in Game 5. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire turned aside 56 of 59 shots that hit the net, while his teammates blocked another 46 in front of him.
"It feels great to come back here. But we can’t rest on what we did the last game. We’ve got to regroup and give it the same effort, and that’s our focus. You want to look back (and know) that whatever happens, you gave it everything you had. We feel we can do some things better, but as long as the effort is there, the determination … Just go out there and play and I think things will fall into place for us." - Daniel Alfredsson
"We’re still in the same situation," said Leclaire. "We know if we don’t win tonight, we’re going home. The win in Pittsburgh was good for us. It gave us a little confidence and we feel good about ourselves, but we’re still really aware of what’s in front of us. It is what it is, but we do feel confident and we’re excited about getting another chance."
Added head coach Cory Clouston: "We’re in the same situation we were before the last game. We’ve just got to focus on what we’re doing, We’ll make slight adjustments from the last game but other than that, it’s basically the same thing."
And rest assured, this is a team that wants to have no regrets after the final buzzer goes off tonight — and on their season, for that matter.
"It feels great to come back here," said Alfredsson. "But we can’t rest on what we did the last game. We’ve got to regroup and give it the same effort, and that’s our focus. You want to look back (and know) that whatever happens, you gave it everything you had.
"We feel we can do some things better, but as long as the effort is there, the determination … Just go out there and play and I think things will fall into place for us."Around the boards
If Leclaire has his way, he'll face plenty of rubber from Penguins shooters again tonight. "The more shots you (face) in a game, the easier it gets," he said. "You get more comfortable when your gear gets wet. You talk to any goalie in the league ... it's easier to get 40 or 50 shots than 15. You don't think too much, you just react to stuff." ... No lineup changes for the Senators tonight, meaning forwards Shean Donovan, Ryan Shannon and Jonathan Cheechoo remain out, along with blueliner Brian Lee ... Fewer than 50 tickets remain for tonight's game.