by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators are committed to treating the home crowd with a win against the Anaheim Ducks tonight. It's the first time the city has hosted a Stanley Cup final in 80 years.
Sens head coach Bryan Murray says the way the city has embraced the 2006-07 edition of the team will motivate his club to victory.
"I hope it means a lot for our players that the fans of today are really supporting them.
As I went around the city in the last day or so, there are a lot of people that really like this team, like what's happened with this team and will support this team. I think they'll respond accordingly tonight."
Down 2-0 in the series, the host Senators will be given the last change tonight. Murray will be able to see who Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has on the ice and match up accordingly. One of Murray's plans will likely be to try and get his No. 1 line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley away from the Ducks' checking line of Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen.
"I think there are times in a game, if you win a faceoff in the offensive zone, you get the right matchup for the 15 to 20 seconds. That's what you expect," Murray says.
"After the puck gets out of the zone, (Carlyle) is going to get a chance to make the line change, and he'll do it. Our guys have to handle that. We have to do a better job in our building."
Alfredsson spoke about what he thinks the key to victory is.
"I think puck possession. It's been one of the things we've been successful (doing on home ice). I said yesterday, too, that we were spread out and when we did dump (the puck) in, we couldn't really get it. We were too spread out and didn't support each other. We have to come more together with the puck, and I think it will be easy for us to make good decisions."
Sens forward Chris Neil will play with an extra level of excitement tonight. On Friday night, Neil and his wife, Caitlin, celebrated the birth of their first child. Hailey Jean Neil, who was born at 11:05 p.m. and weighed 6 lbs., 10 ozs.
"It was exciting," Neil says. "Your wife does all the work. She was unbelievable. Watching her being born, you can't say words for it. It's a miracle.
"I'm fortunate enough to have two exciting things in my life going on at the same time. My wife's healthy, my baby's healthy, and now I have another goal here."
Kunitz could play tonight
During his news conference this morning, Carlyle said forward Chris Kunitz, who hasn't played in the series because of a broken right hand, has been cleared to play by doctors but wouldn't divulge if he planned to insert him in the Ducks' lineup.
In 81 games during the regular season, Kunitz scored 25 goals and 60 points playing primarily with Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald.