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Senators still hopeful at home

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’re down but definitely not out.

The Ottawa Senators returned home to Scotiabank Place on Saturday, knowing they’ve got a bit of a mountain to climb to get back into their Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After posting a 5-3 victory Friday night at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, the favoured Penguins hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. History hasn’t been kind to the Senators when they’ve found themselves in that position in the past: They’re 0-6 in the Stanley Cup playoffs after dropping the first two games of a series.

But this is a group still very much convinced it can buck that trend, buoyed by a comeback Friday night that nearly brought the Senators all the way back from a 3-0 deficit. Ottawa pulled even early in the third period on rookie Cody Bass’s first career playoff goal, but the Penguins’ Ryan Malone spoiled the comeback by notching the game-winner on a power play with 1:02 to go.

“We showed some good character battling back and doing some good things we wanted to start off doing in the series,” said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. “It didn’t happen and we’re down 2-0. But definitely, (we’ve got) a lot to build off coming home.”

Forward Shean Donovan, whose second-period goal sparked the Senators’ rally Friday night, believes the return to the much friendlier confines of Scotiabank Place for Game 3 on Monday night (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) might be just what the Senators need to keep building on their new-found momentum.

“Now we have home ice, so it’s going to be exciting,” said Donovan. “You build on (the Game 2 rally). We want to come out hard (Monday night) and it’s going to be exciting here in the building for Game 3. What a great crowd it is here.

“(Let’s) just take that momentum into Game 3, and we know what a huge game it is for us. We’ve got two days to regroup and we’re excited to get going here…. Momentum changes and you never know what can happen in a series. It’s a seven-game series, it’s a long series.”

Added head coach/general manager Bryan Murray: “We’re home now. We wanted the game (Friday) night. We had a chance, we put ourselves in position to steal one in there and that’s what it probably would have been.

“Martin Gerber played terrific for us and allowed us a chance, going into the latter stages of the game, to get a win. It didn’t happen. Now we have to find a way to win the game at home Monday night.”

The Senators were outshot by a whopping 54-30 margin Friday night and surrendered three power-play goals, including Malone’s winner. Those are two things, Murray said, that have to change for his team to reverse the tide in the series.

“It’s impossible, when you (take) nine penalties, to beat good teams,” he said. “You can’t find a way, the way we’re set up right now, to kill enough penalties to win a hockey game when you do that.”

Ottawa also needs to get its biggest guns going. While Penguins Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have racked up a combined 10 points so far in this series, Senators counterparts Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley have just a single assist between them.

“You can’t think about that,” Heatley said when asked if he’s feeling pressure to boost his production. “It’s been two games. Things haven’t gone the way we wanted them to but we can take some good things out of the first couple (of games).

“We had a chance to win (Friday) night. We didn’t get it done but they’ve got to come into our rink now and we’ve got to win two.”

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