Ottawa leads the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference final 3-0 and can sweep the Sabres with a win in Game 4 on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place. Only two NHL teams – the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders – have ever won a series after trailing 3-0.
The Senators, considered post-season underachievers in recent seasons by some, are vying to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since the franchise was revived in 1992.
Alfredsson, the playoff goal-scoring leader, broke a 0-0 tie at 13:40 of the second period, finishing a wild play in which Dany Heatley’s bullet shot went off the back boards, hit goalie Ryan Miller’s elbow and rolled into the crease for a tap-in goal.
It was the Senators’ sixth playoff win in a row and the fifth straight game in which Alfredsson has scored.
Ray Emery needed only 15 saves for his third shutout of the post-season as Ottawa outskated and outbattled the Sabres before a festive crowd of 20,171, most of them dressed in Senators’ red.
The Sabres, who ousted Ottawa in five games in the second round last spring, finished first overall and were the NHL’s highest-scoring club this season, but couldn’t penetrate the Ottawa defence.
Buffalo was 0-for-6 on the power play and is without a goal in 18 opportunities in the series.
Miller held the Sabres in a game, which they were outshot 32-15, including a 13-4 bombardment in the first period in which he stoned Alfredsson on a rebound and made a huge glove save on Chris Kelly.
Emery was rarely tested, facing only 10 shots through the first two periods, but he made a sharp saves on Maxim Afinogenov and Jason Pominville in the second.
Notes – Defenceman Henrik Tallinder was in the Sabres’ starting lineup despite a hard hit into the boards from Alfredsson in Game 2 in Buffalo and there were no lineup changes for either club. Tallinder was called for high-sticking Alfredsson in the third period. . . A Canadian-based team has not won the Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. . . Scotiabank Place has 11 Stanley Cup banners won by various Ottawa clubs in the early 20th century.