|Senators feeding off hometown support|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 03 June 2007 10:48|
OTTAWA (AP) -The Ottawa Senators gave their fans a reason to celebrate and now they hope the party atmosphere in the hockey-mad Canadian capital will continue beyond their next home game.
Senators goalie Ray Emery was impressed with the community's enthusiasm the day after Ottawa climbed back into the Stanley Cup finals with a 5-3 victory over Anaheim in Game 3.
``It was crazy. Even driving in there was traffic for us coming to the game because people were already here going crazy, partying,'' Emery said following Sunday's optional practice at Scotiabank Place.
The Senators trail the series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night.
Daniel Alfredsson had a sense of the support waiting for him and his teammates for the team's first home game in 17 days because they could hear the crowd while they prepared for the game in their dressing room.
``It was a big lift,'' Alfredsson said. ``It's the loudest I've seen this place. They were definitely giving us a lot of energy.''
Ottawa overcame three one-goal deficits and the reborn Senators gave the city its first win in a Stanley Cup finals game since Apr. 13, 1927, when the original franchise beat Boston 3-1 to win its 11th and final championship.
``I mean, you could just feel the energy coming out,'' Emery said. ``We were getting ready and you could hear the crowd chanting already. There were probably, whatever, 14,000 people for warmup or something like that, so it was just awesome to play in a game like that.''
Monday night's crowd may top the record 20,500 who took in Game 3, though it won't have an opportunity to vent its displeasure with Anaheim's Chris Pronger. The Ducks defenseman, who was booed frequently throughout Saturday's game, will serve a one-game league suspension for his unpenalized elbow on Dean McAmmond. The Ottawa center was knocked out of the game with a head injury, and is questionable for Game 4.
``We'll just have to wait and see until almost game time, if there's a chance at all,'' Senators coach Bryan Murray said.
The Senators' fans do hope to have more opportunities to cheer on the team's top line of Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
Alfredsson scored the line's first goal of the series Saturday, though it was on the power play and resulted from a redirection off his left skate.
``They had the puck more last night,'' Murray said. ``I thought Anaheim did a good job against them again but very definitely, they were better. Will they play better than this? I certainly hope so.''
The line managed only three shots in Game 3, all by Alfredsson. The trio has combined for just 14 shots so far in the series.
``I think our line still can be better but we were better than we've been,'' Alfredsson said. ``Everybody was working hard. We made some mistakes at times but we worked so hard that we overcame it.''
Murray used home ice to his advantage in trying to keep the line away from Anaheim's checking line of Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer, which has been successful in shadowing the Senators' top unit where Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Buffalo failed earlier.
``We think the way they played through the first part of the playoffs, they were better,'' Murray said. ``Mind you, they're playing different people , different size, and that has been a little bit of a factor. But as they step up a little bit and the other guys continue to play hard, as they did, we have a good chance to get back into the series.''