by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators hope to return home after Game 4 tonight in Pittsburgh with a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the Penguins. They know it won't come easy.
"Obviously, we would like to get the extra edge here," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said after an optional skate today in Pittsburgh. "I suspect that Michel (Therrien, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins) will have his people wired and ready to go. It will be a real good contest."
With a win tonight, the Senators will have a chance to move on to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs with another victory at Scotiabank Place on Thursday. The team isn't looking that far ahead just yet, though.
"(Pittsburgh is) going to regroup. They know how important the game is (tonight) as well," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says.
While Ottawa has outshot Pittsburgh 99-66 so far in the series, they will look to get more goals past Penguins goaltender Marc-André Fleury.
"I think Fleury has played well. Hopefully, we have learned every night how to play against him a little better and, hopefully, we can finish more," Murray says.
Over the last two days, Murray has given his players the option to practise or stay off the ice. He says the players deserve, and could benefit from, the rest.
"After two (games) in two nights, I gave them the option and I think 12 guys went out (to practise today)," Murray said. "Really, this group has worked hard at getting ready. What we've done is allowed them to take a skate in one of the two days, and most of them have done that."
Oleg Saprykin will replace Patrick Eaves, who left Game 3 early after a collision with Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong, in the Senators lineup tonight. Eaves says he wants to get back playing as soon as possible.
"I'm feeling a lot better than yesterday," Eaves said this afternoon. "It's just kind of a day-to-day thing right now. I'll go by what the doctors (and trainers) tell me everyday. I'll be back as soon as I can."