The Senators centre wasn’t concerned by Ottawa’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres in Game 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, although it’s something he’d prefer to not see Saturday when the series resumes in Buffalo.
“It’s been a good little run,” Spezza said after the Senators suffered their first loss in the past seven playoff games. “We have to expect there’s going to be a bump in the road somewhere.”
That bump came courtesy of Derek Roy’s goal just nine seconds into the game, the first of three straight that staked Buffalo to a lead that proved too much despite furious pressure by Ottawa in the second half of the contest.
Dean McAmmond and Peter Schaefer, with his first of the playoffs, responded with goals less than two minutes apart and the Senators outshot Buffalo 33-22 on the night, including 15-7 in the third period. But Ottawa’s comeback fell short, preventing the Senators from earning the first series sweep in the franchise’s modern history.
They’ll now need at least Saturday’s fifth game at HSBC Arena to finish off Buffalo and advance to the Stanley Cup final, also for the first time.
“It’s going to be loud and it’s going to be exciting and their fans are going to be revved up. They’re going to come hard,” Schaefer said. “We’ve just got to have a good start and not let them storm us.”
The Senators, who lost for the first time in the playoffs when presented with the chance to end a series, weren’t concerned about giving the Sabres a lifeline.
“I don’t think there was a man in our room that didn’t believe we couldn’t come back when we were down 3-0 and that’s a good feeling,” Spezza said after he and linemates Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley were held without a point for the first time in the post-season. “Obviously, we hope we don’t put ourselves in that spot again, but the resiliency of the team . . . we tried to come back and it didn’t happen and now we’ve just got to win on the road.”
In the 2003 playoffs, the Senators gave up a goal to Philadelphia’s Claude Lapointe 23 seconds into a contest. Roy beat that mark when Andrej Meszaros’ pass out of his zone after Spezza won the opening faceoff hit Roy’s skate and bounced to Chris Drury at the Ottawa blue-line.
Roy went to the net and re-directed Drury’s pass into the top corner past goaltender Ray Emery.
“Just an unlucky bounce and if he can tip that top corner like that again, I’d be pretty impressed,” Spezza said. “That’s a great goal and pretty tough to do on that angle.
“But you don’t want to start off like that again. I think it stunned everyone, probably them a little bit, too. We talked about not giving them a little bit of life to start the game, but you live and you learn.”