OTTAWA – Daniel Alfredsson has no doubt that he and the Ottawa Senators will bring their best game to Pittsburgh and doesn’t care if anyone thinks otherwise.
Down 3-1 to the Penguins, the Senators face the prospect of elimination when their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal resume Friday night.
While he would have preferred to talk about resiliency and opportunity on Thursday, Alfredsson was forced to explain his comments following Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Penguins. The Ottawa captain had been asked whether it was feasible for the Senators to win three straight games against the Penguins.
“Probably not,” Alfredsson told reporters in a post-game scrum. “I mean, with their depth and power play right now, it doesn’t look too good.”
On Thursday, he admitted his comments were probably taken out of context, but said,“That’s fine, I can handle that.”
“We’re down 3-1 to a very good team and going back to their building and we’re just going to go in there and give them a hell of a game. We’ve always responded really well when our backs are against the wall and this is no different. The good thing is we’re still in the playoffs, it’s not over so we’re going to go in there and give them everything we have.”
Alfredsson said he hadn’t had a chance to read the various news reports or reaction to his comments, but wasn’t overly concerned by how they were being perceived.
“It doesn’t really matter to me which way it’s looked at,”said Alfredsson.“I think the guys in this room know enough about me and I believe in these guys so what’s said and how it’s looked at I’m not going to change anything from what I said.
“It’s pretty obvious to me that we’re in pretty tough and all we can do is focus on (Friday’s) game and give ourselves a chance to come back here for a Game 6.”
Teammates had no issue with Alfredsson’s comments and have no reservations about his belief in the team.
“I think what he was getting at is we’re a team that nobody’s given us a chance most of the year and guys have made the most of it and whenever our back’s been up against the wall we’ve played real well,”said forward Jason Spezza.“We have to go to Pittsburgh and play our best game of the series. We haven’t played our best game yet and hopefully it’s (Friday).”
The Senators’ entire season has largely been based on their ability to overcome adversity and Friday will be their biggest test.
“We have to respond to the level they went to in the last game and we’ll find out tomorrow if in fact we can do that,”said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.“It’s going to be a great challenge for us and we look forward to it.”
The Senators had an early lead Wednesday for the first time in the series. But once the Penguins applied pressure, Ottawa started scrambling and turnovers and penalties were the result.
“They’ve been able to start periods way better than we have,”said MacLean.“We need to be ready to play at the start and not ease into it. We have to make sure we’re ready to play.”
Despite being pulled for the second time in the series, Craig Anderson will get the start in goal for Ottawa. MacLean had no issue with Anderson’s play and said there was never a question as to him starting.
“The play of our goaltender allows us to play with a certain amount of freedom, but at the same time we have to play for him too,”said MacLean.“The game (Wednesday) when the momentum swung the other way, it really swung. They made it very difficult for us and they never let off at all.
“They kept going and we couldn’t even get the momentum stopped. We have to come back (Friday) and stop the momentum.”
The Senators will consider making lineup changes for Friday, but MacLean wasn’t ready to say what they might be.
Notes: Mark Stone, who was hit late in the game, is being re-evaluated and his status for Game 5 remains unclear. The Senators did not skate today, but did have player meetings…The Penguins are 0-6 all-time under coach Dan Bylsma when they have a chance to end a series in Pittsburgh.