OTTAWA (AP)—The Senators know they missed a big opportunity.
They seized home-ice advantage from Montreal in the opener of their first-round series in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Then came a poor effort in Game 2.
Ottawa now looks to rebound when it hosts the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday night with the series 1-1.
“We had an opportunity to really take a stranglehold, so we’re disappointed, but now we’re home and we have to take care of our business. It’s not going to be easy but we’re in a position that we can control,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said Saturday.
“I thought (the Canadiens) were harder at both nets than we were and they were consistently harder at the puck. They were better in the faceoff circle and they finished checks. So if you’re better in those stats I think you’re probably the team that played harder. Not that we didn’t play hard, but every game in the playoffs gets a little harder and we have to make sure that we raise our level.”
Ottawa, which won the opener 4-2, is home for the next two games. Game 4 is Tuesday.
The Senators were one of the top home teams in the league during the season with a 15-6-3 record. The Canadiens went 15-7-2 on the road, fourth best overall.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson says his club took too many penalties in Game 2 and after allowing the Canadiens to go up 3-1 late in the second period.
“Getting one game is better than getting none obviously, and it puts us in the driver’s seat at home,” Alfredsson said. “We want to take advantage of the way we’ve been playing at home all year and try and take charge of this series.”
Ottawa center Kyle Turris says his team must attack more.
“More play in their end will create less time for them in our end,” said Turris, who has one assist and five shots through the first two games. “We have to be physical. That’s something they took to us a bit in Game 2 and we’re going to have to engage in that more.”
The Canadiens, for their part, will be looking for more of the same.
“We’ve got to stick to what made us successful last game,” defenseman Josh Gorges said before the team departed for Ottawa. “We’ve got to be a fast team. We’ve got to be a team that’s first on pucks. We’ve got to push the pace.
“We’re good when we keep putting pucks deep in the offensive zone and we get our cycle game going. We spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. And whether we’re at home or whether we’re in Ottawa, we have to have that same mentality and that same urgency.”
Senators defenseman Eric Gryba will serve the second of his two-game suspension Sunday for a hit that left Canadiens forward Lars Eller with a concussion, as well as a broken nose some lost teeth.
Gryba, who received a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct on the play, maintains the hit was clean.
“Obviously disappointed with the league’s decision on that, but there’s nothing I can do but move on,” Gryba said. “I still feel as though it was a shoulder-to-shoulder body check and a hockey play.”
The play drew comments from both teams. MacLean was accused of being disrespectful for saying Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz was to blame for feeding Eller a dangerous pass up the middle, and by referring to Diaz as No. 61 and not by name.
Canadiens enforcer Brandon Prust called MacLean a “bugged-eyed, fat walrus.” MacLean had some fun with that Saturday.
“Bugged eyed—I’ve never been called that before. That’s a new one. Walrus — that’s too easy. But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m not fat. I might be husky, but I’m not fat,” MacLean cracked, adding he doesn’t even know who on his team is No. 61.
For the record, it’s Andre Benoit