WATCH ABOVE: The Ottawa Senators talk about playing a must-win Game 4.
OTTAWA – It was just over a week ago when the Ottawa Senators were bursting with confidence after a hot streak of wins late in the regular season that got them into the NHL playoffs. That was before the Montreal Canadiens won the first three games in the series.
The relief of getting into the playoffs wore off fast, and the Sens are now searching for the magic that worked for them before, just not with rookie goalie Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond in net, who had once been a part of that pre-playoff magic, winning 20 out of 23 games.
For Game 4, Sens coach Dave Cameron said he has chosen Craig Anderson as the goaltender in this must-win game based on experience.
“He has a proven playoff record to be a really good goalie,” Cameron said.
Anderson played well in Game 3 on Sunday with 47 saves, but the Sens still lost 2-1 to the Habs after right-winger Dale Weise scored against him in overtime. After that loss, the team had a day off for a memorial dedicated to their assistant coach, Mark Reed, who died of cancer on April 14.
“Definitely an emotional day off, that Monday, for everyone here. That extra day gave us the breathing room to reflect, and kind of move on, and get focused on tonight,” Anderson said.
The pressure for tonight’s game was palpable in the Sens change-room when players came out to speak with the media. The Sens captain, Erik Karlsson, said that everyone still believes that it’s possible to win, they just have to find out how.
“It feels like we’ve been playing games like this for a while now and our approach hasn’t really changed even though we’re down three nothing. We’re going to keep doing the same things,” Karlsson said, but added “we need a little bit more.”
WATCH: The Montreal Canadiens are expecting to face a desperate team fighting to stay out of elimination.
In the first three games the Sens started off strong by leading each of the games 1-0 in the first period. Their strategy tonight is to make that first period last the entire game.
“Our first periods have been great. We have to find a way to play three first periods in the game, and find a way to stick with it for 60-minutes and not have the setbacks we’ve had in second period. That’s what been killing us so far,” Karlsson said.
The Habs are expecting to face their toughest game against the Sens yet. In 2014, the Habs swept Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs, but not without a fight in the last game.
“The fourth victory is always the hardest. They’re going to come hard, they’re going to be desperate, and we need to be ready, ” said Habs centreman David Desharnais.
The Habs right-winger, Dale Weise, who tied the game on Sunday late in the third period and then scored the winning goal in overtime, said his team is confident but they need to have a better start tonight.
“When you get a chance to close teams out you don’t want to give them any life,” Weise said.
Montreal Canadien’s coach, Michel Therrien, said that his team has to be in the same attitude, and the same mindset as the Sens going into this game. With a three game lead in a seven game series, it will be difficult to match the desperation the Sens will be feeling tonight.
Game 4 starts at 7 p.m. at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, and fans will see if the Sens have finally run out of steam or if they have what it takes for the ultimate comeback.