|Senators forward Oleg Saprykin and his teammates look to make history tonight. With a win over the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa will claim its first playoff sweep and a berth in the 2007 Stanley Cup final. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
History could be made tonight when the Ottawa Senators host the Buffalo Sabres for the fourth game of the Eastern Conference final. Leading the series 3-0, Ottawa will attempt to sweep a playoff series for the first time and reach the 2007 Stanley Cup final.
Senators alternate captain Chris Phillips was asked what a playoff sweep against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Sabres would mean to the team.
"It means we're going on to the final. It's not a sweep that we're really looking at. It's four wins. We're going to try our best to get that in Game 4."
The Senators will stick with the game plan tonight and continue to do the things that have made them successful thus far in the post-season. While the excitement of what lies ahead can be felt across the city, the players are focused with the task at hand.
"We just have to come in the game strong. Obviously, they're not just going to give it to us," forward Oleg Saprykin says. "We just have to work hard. Every game is going to be like this. Those guys know it's a 3-0 series and it's going to be most important to come out in the first 10 minutes strong and focused."
The Senators haven't let up throughout the entire playoffs and they don't intend to now. Remarkably, the club has a chance to claim a spot in the Stanley Cup final in just 14 games through the first three rounds.
"There's no letdown, and I think the composure we've shown has been real key for us," alternate captain Wade Redden says. "We got down 2-0 in Game 2 (against Buffalo) and guys just stuck with it and kept battling and it worked out well for us. The composure level has been key."
Senators forward Dany Heatley is tied with linemate Jason Spezza for first place in NHL scoring with 18 points. Heatley expects a mighty effort from the Sabres tonight.
"We feel good but at the same time a fourth game and closing out the series is always the toughest game. They're going to bring it all (tonight). They have to. We've got to be focused and ready to play our best game.
"I think that's one of the reasons why we've come this far. We've taken it one game at a time and whether we've won or lost, we've been able to forget about it and re-focus and re-energize for the next game."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says the team will feed off the energy from the home crowd tonight.
"I think they've brought their A game this year as well. They have been a big reason why we have a good home record this year. They've definitely shown their support. This has been a great hockey community since I've been here."