Senators Look for Nail

Disappointed in letting the Sabres off the hook once, Ray Emery and the Ottawa Senators arrived in Buffalo on Friday confident they won't let that happen again.

``Not to take anything away from them, they had their backs against the wall and performed,'' the Senators goaltender said. ``But we still believe we control our own destiny. And if we play our game, we're a very tough team to beat, and we'll win more often than not.''

Oddsmakers have made Buffalo -130 money line (NHL Odds) favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 total goals (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo -130 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

The Senators, with a 3-1 lead on the Sabres in the Eastern Conference finals, will get their second crack at clinching their first Stanley Cup finals berth in Game 5 at Buffalo on Saturday afternoon.

Rather than being down following a 3-2 loss on Wednesday, the Senators sounded more resolved to end this best-of-seven series.

``It's not pressure. We're excited,'' Emery said. ``We've been playing well. We're in the present, we don't care what we did in the past.''

The Sabres, meanwhile, are hoping to draw upon whatever good feelings they've generated after finally figuring out a way to beat their division rivals.

``We've heard a lot of rumors that it was over,'' Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere said. ``I think we gained a lot of confidence in Game 4, realizing we can still make plays, can still win games. We still believe.''

In an attempt to continue nurturing his team's confidence, coach Lindy Ruff made sure to remind everyone that the top-seeded Sabres - a team that led the NHL in the regular season with 53 wins and 308 goals - didn't get this far by chance.

``We're not an 8th seed that snuck into the playoffs,'' Ruff said. ``We're a team that went out and had a very good season. We won 10 games in a row. We've put together real good streaks, and we have to put one together again.''

Trouble is, the Sabres haven't played like the superior team.

The Senators are 11-3 this postseason, and have yet to lose two in a series after needing five games to dispatch both Pittsburgh and New Jersey in the first two rounds.

Against Buffalo, Ottawa holds the edge in goals (12-8) shots (131-94) and resilience. Ottawa rallied from a two-goal deficit to pull out a 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 2, and nearly overcame a three-goal deficit on Wednesday.

``We've got a great chance to end it and that's what we want to do,'' Senators defenseman Wade Redden said. ``Last game, I don't think we had that same energy, but they certainly did. We'll be better tomorrow for sure.''

The Sabres would be done by now if not for Ryan Miller's stellar goaltending. Miller stopped 31 shots to prevent a blowout in a 1-0 loss in Game 3 and stopped another 31 to prevent a Senators sweep on Wednesday.

``They thought they had us in a down-and-out situation, but now they find us having a little more life than they were probably hoping for,'' Miller said. ``I think we have a lot of hockey left to play in us. We'll have to wait to see where it leads us.''

Miller played a key role in shutting out the Senators' top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, which didn't register a point for the first time this postseason.

``Well, he was good, but I don't think he was unbelievable,'' Spezza said of Miller. ``I don't think he stole the game. We missed the net a lot on some quality chances.''

The Senators say they might have been caught looking ahead in Game 4.

The Sabres believe their struggles are the result of playing under the weight of high expectations - pegged as Cup contenders since September.

That burden isn't there, now.

``We're not looking at it as if, 'We lose, we're done.' We don't want to play scared,'' Briere said. ``We want to go out there and still have fun and play loose.''

The Sabres are attempting to bounce back from two home losses, and avoid losing three home games in a series for the fourth time in franchise playoff history, and first since losing a six-game series to Washington in the 1998 East finals.

The Sabres will likely have one lineup change, with right wing Dainius Zubrus - among the Sabres best defensive forwards this postseason - unlikely to play with what's being described as a lower-body injury.

by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us

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