|Senators centre Jason Spezza says it's always the Senators' plan to get an early lead on teams and force them to play catch-up.|
by Todd Anderson
With Wednesday's 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Ottawa Senators improved their all-time playoff record to 26-3 when leading after two periods and 17-3 when leading after 20 minutes. It's not the be-all and end-all, but the team feels getting an early lead again today will help push them to its first 2-0 playoff series lead in club history.
"We try to get the early lead (on all teams)," says Senators centre Jason Spezza. "I think we try to come out pretty hard. If we can play with the lead, it forces other teams to take chances and that's when we're at our best - when other teams are gambling against us. It definitely is part of our plan."
Defenceman Joe Corvo adds that while an early lead helps, remaining focused throughout the ups and downs in a playoff game - and playoff series - is the deciding factor on what makes good teams great.
"I think if you do get too involved in the statistics it might mess you up, but I think it definitely is important to score first. You kind of hang on every goal, though. That's how minute and small the steps are in the playoffs. It's good to get a lead after the first period. Statistically, you can't really have that in your head, but that's what (the statistics) show. The leading teams usually win those games."
While Ottawa stormed out to the early lead in Game 1 and continued to control most of the play, Corvo says his club is also prepared for a game when scoring might be more back-and-forth.
"We had a couple of collapses in the third period (during the regular season) that we really learned from. We learned we're not the type of team that (wants to) sit back in the third and hold onto the lead. We just have to keep the pressure on. We learned a lot as a team. It was good for us to have the highs and lows this year."