The Ottawa Senators are poised to pull off a first-round upset over the New York Rangers.
Easy now, one step at a time.
The Senators held a short skate at Scotiabank Place Friday before boarding a late afternoon flight bound for the Big Apple to prepare for Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
Ottawa tied the best-of-seven series 2-2 with a 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday night.
While New York still holds home-ice advantage in what's now a best-of-three, the Senators could steal that away if they can get a victory and have the chance to close out this series in Game 6 Monday night in Ottawa.
"[Momentum] hasn't really meant a lot in this series so far," said Ottawa defenceman Jared Cowen on Friday. "It's gone both ways. We played pretty well in the last game and that means a lot to us.
"There's no pressure on us. We're putting pressure on ourselves in the locker room to perform, but I guess that's the way it could be portrayed, that they have all the pressure. It really could go either way."
MacLean on board
Coach Paul MacLean didn't disagree.
"I think for sure [they have pressure]. They were the best team in the East," said MacLean.
The Senators won't have captain Daniel Alfredsson for Game 5. He was left at home and MacLean said his status was unchanged while winger Jesse Winchester (upper body) isn't going to play either.
Trying to find the right combinations, MacLean used former Brandon Wheat Kings centre Mark Stone and Binghamton callup Mike Hoffman on the top line in practice Friday. It's doubtful either will play but Stone did make the trip.
Expect to see Kaspars Daugavins or Rob Klinkhammer take Winchester's spot on the roster. MacLean is playing his cards close to his vest and wouldn't shed any light on what might happen in this area.
This will be the third straight game Alfredsson has missed as a result of the elbow to the head from winger Carl Hagelin in Game 2 on April 14.
"[Alfredsson's] unchanged," said MacLean. "We have multiple personnel [to go into the lineup]. We're just keeping all of our options open."
Rangers feeling heat
The Rangers are feeling the heat to start scoring, especially top players Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
"Your best players have to be at their best, especially this time of year. You need them," Rangers forward Ryan Callahan said. "You're going to have other guys step up and score some big goals like [Brian] Boyle has and [Anton] Stralman has two. For us to win the series, we definitely have to our top guys going."
Rangers coach John Tortorella said if the club's best players aren't scoring it's not for a lack of trying.
"Our top guys, just like everybody, want to be our top guys," said Tortorella.
Callahan said the Rangers have to do a better job getting to goalie Craig Anderson.
"I think we just have to continue to get pucks to the net, get some bodies there," said Callahan. "I think he's seeing a lot of shots. If we do that and bang in some rebounds, I think we'll be successful."
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