One more time

Se­na­tors be­lieve they can defy ex­pec­ta­tions again with first Game 7 win

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY LISA WALLACE

The Ottawa Se­na­tors have had a knack for do­ing the un­ex­pected this post-sea­son. They’ll need to do it one more time to ad­vance to their first Stan­ley Cup fi­nal in a decade.

The Se­na­tors take on the de­fend­ing cham­pion Pen­guins in Pitts­burgh tonight in Game 7 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal. The Se­na­tors are 0-5 all-time in Game 7s, ty­ing them with the Ari­zona Coy­otes for the worst record in all of North Amer­i­can pro sports.

But this team has re­peat­edly re­bounded af­ter be­ing writ­ten off in these play­offs, most re­cently in this se­ries. Af­ter los­ing back-to-back games to the Pen­guins, in­clud­ing an em­bar­rass­ing 7-0 beat­ing in Game 5, the Se­na­tors put forth one of their best ef­forts in Game 6 to take a 2-1 vic­tory and force the de­cid­ing game.

“I re­mem­ber com­ing home af­ter we lost 7-0 and I was driv­ing home talk­ing to (de­fence­man Dion Pha­neuf) and he was like ‘We’re go­ing to get this se­ries’ and I was think­ing the same thing and it’s how do you think that af­ter you lose 7-0?” said Ottawa for­ward Clarke MacArthur. “So we got one of the two and we have a job to do go­ing into Game 7.

“I be­lieve in the group we have and I know when we play our game and if we’re on we can beat any team in the league and if we’re off, you can have an off night. I feel like this team, I’ve never been on a team that reloads as quick as we do and that’s what this time of year is all about. It’s for­get it, move on and we did that and now we have to for­get last night too.”

Fol­low­ing the loss the Pen­guins were just as ea­ger to put Game 6 be­hind them. Un­like the Se­na­tors, the Pen­guins are in very fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory.

The Pen­guins were in the ex­act same po­si­tion a year ago as they faced the Tampa Bay Light­ning in Game 7 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal where they went on to win 2-1. Two weeks ago the Pen­guins elim­i­nated the Pres­i­dent Tro­phy-win­ning Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals in Game 7 with a 2-0 vic­tory.

The Se­na­tors haven’t played in a Game 7 since the 2012 Eastern Con­fer­ence quar­ter-fi­nals where they were elim­i­nated by the New York Rangers.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the Pen­guins see their fa­mil­iar­ity with Game 7s as an ad­van­tage.

“Well, I have to be­lieve those ex­pe­ri­ences will serve our play­ers well,” said Pitts­burgh coach Mike Sul­li­van. “It’s not some­thing that’s new to them. These guys have been in­volved in these ex­pe­ri­ences on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, and they have those ex­pe­ri­ences to draw on.

“You know, I think they know what to ex­pect, and now it’s a mat­ter of go­ing out and earn­ing it and con­trol­ling what they can and do­ing your very best to get the re­sult that we’re look­ing for.”

“We’ve gone through this, we know what to ex­pect out of our group,” added 40-year-old for­ward Matt Cullen. “We have a com­fort level with our plan and the way that we need to play. These are the fun games to play. So as a group, we go into it with a lot of con­fi­dence, know­ing that we’re go­ing to need our best game and ex­pect­ing that we’ll bring it.”

How­ever, the Pen­guins are 0-7 in Game 7 at home af­ter los­ing Game 6 on the road.

CP PHOTO

Ottawa Se­na­tors goalie Craig An­der­son takes a mo­ment to savour his team’s vic­tory over the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins fol­low­ing Game 6 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in the NHL Stan­ley Cup play­offs in Ottawa on Tues­day.

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