NEW YORK –
The Ottawa Senators were all business as they headed to the Big Apple on Sunday afternoon.
They may be up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinal against the New York Rangers after a thrilling 6-5 double-overtime victory at the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday, but the Senators know they haven’t won anything yet and there’s a lot of work left to do if they’re going to win this series with Game 3 set for Tuesday night.
The Senators didn’t go on the ice Sunday, instead, they met at the MacDonald-Cartier Airport and boarded their Air Canada charter. It was a day to rest, relax and recover before they hit the ice Monday morning for practice at Madison Square Garden.
“On my God, we have everything to do,” coach Guy Boucher told reporters Sunday before leaving Ottawa. “It’s not like (their) last series, where they won the two games on the road (against Montreal) and they’re coming home. We won at home, games we have to win at home, and now we’re going to play in their barn.
“We enjoy playing there, I think we did well there, but at the same time we know the kind of urgency they’re going to bring to the next game. I know they talked about reloading because they’ve got two days off and figuring out what they have to do beat us and I think we have to do the same. We’ve got to back to the drawing board and make sure we’re not surprised by anything they’re going throw at us.”
Yes, the Senators had timely goals Saturday to come back from a two-goal deficit in the final four minutes — especially with the four-goal effort from centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau — but the game was far from textbook. The club went 0-for-4 on the power play, gave up two shorthanded goals and allowed 48 shots on Craig Anderson.
The Senators will never be perfect, but they can be improved and that’s why they’re buoyed being up 2-0 in this series because they likely haven’t played their best game yet and they’re sitting in a good position. Mistakes are going to happen in hockey, however, Boucher doesn’t like the kind of chances they’re giving up.
Ottawa has had success this year because the team has played with structure and Boucher felt the club did a better job once it went to the extra period cutting down on the scoring chances on Anderson.
“Our overtime was really good. I thought we really looked like ourselves and I thought we cleaned up a few things that we don’t want to see,” Boucher said.
After Game 1 on Thursday, Boucher felt the Senators would need to record 40 shots per-game on Henrik Lundqvist if they were going to have success. That theory went out the window in Game 2 when Ottawa scored six goals on 28 shots, which should bode well for their confidence going into these next two games on the road.
“We’re going into their building and we know that they’re going to come (out hard),” alternate captain Dion Phaneuf said. “(Saturday) we got lucky in that we were able to find a way, but we can’t spot them those leads because when you’re chasing a game it’s going to eventually catch up to you.
“But we’re really happy with finding a way but we know we have to be better.”
The Senators have a great opportunity in the next two games. Not only can they push the Rangers to the brink of elimination with a victory in Game 3, the Senators have never swept a playoff series in their team history. Make no mistake, Ottawa has plenty of respect for the Rangers and Ottawa players know this is far from being over.
The Rangers served notice in the second Saturday that they’re a tough customers. They controlled much of the play, made life difficult for the Senators and didn’t give them much. The key for the Senators was their ability to respond and that’s something they’ve been able to do all season.
Getting the two wins at home was a huge step for the Senators.
“We wanted to cement home ice and we’re fortunate to have home ice in the second round,” winger Mark Stone said. “We weren’t at our best (Saturday), we got a big penalty kill with six minutes left in the game and then (Pageau) made two big plays to get us to 5-5.
“At this time of year, you have to find ways to win. No game in the playoffs is easy to win. For us, I think that last four minutes (of Game 1) we kept it quite simple. You look at the goals, none of them were pretty, perfect plays.”
The Senators have a perfect record in this series and if they can keep it up they have the chance to end it quickly.
MACARTHUR MAKES THE FLIGHT
NEW YORK — That sigh of relief you heard before the Ottawa Senators left town was news that winger Clarke MacArthur accompanied his teammates on the trip.
The veteran winger might even be available to play Tuesday in Game 3 of the East semifinal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Coach Guy Boucher reiterated Sunday that MacArthur’s undisclosed injury has nothing to do with his past history of concussions and he’s confident MacArthur will be able to skate with the team Monday.
MacArthur is back after missing nearly two years with post-concussion syndrome and he left Saturday’s double-overtime victory over the Rangers in the second period after an open-ice hit from Ryan McDonagh late in the first. MacArthur took a couple of shifts in the second, didn’t feel right and went to the dressing room.
MacArthur has an upper-body injury.
“Clarke is feeling much better so he’s hopeful for Tuesday for sure,” Boucher said.
If MacArthur can’t play, though, Boucher has the option of dressing winger Tom Pyatt, who has been cleared to return after suffering an injury in Game 4 vs. Boston. He was available to return Saturday, but Boucher didn’t want to change a winning lineup and it didn’t sound like he’s any hurry to make any roster moves for Game 3 either.
That says a lot because Pyatt is one of Boucher’s most trusted players but this is why the club loaded up with depth at the trade deadline so that they could be ready for these types of situations in the playoffs.
“(Tommy) Wingesl has been in the lineup and we’ve won three in a row with the same lineup,” Boucher said. “We might still go with the same lineup depending Clarke. If we need to change something, (Pyatt) is ready and, of course, (Pyatt) has been an important part of our team.
“He brings speed and he was actually one of our better players against the Rangers during the season. He’s a great penalty kill, he’s really fast and he plays great with (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau and (Mike) Hoffman so that’s a possibility. We’ll see. We just want to see what’s going on exactly with all the guys.”
Defenceman Mark Borowiecki isn’t close to a return from the leg injury he suffered Round 1 vs. the Bruins. Boucher offered no timetable for his recovery.