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Senators Need to Rebound Quickly

May 19, 2003|From Associated Press

When the Ottawa Senators ended their players-only meeting Sunday, Daniel Alfredsson couldn't wait to address the group of reporters gathered in the locker room.

"You ready?" the Ottawa captain asked, standing in front of his stall.

The real question: Are the Senators ready?

Ottawa faces elimination for the first time this postseason, trailing the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, with Game 5 at Ottawa today.

Alfredsson has been held to one assist against the Devils and was in the penalty box when New Jersey scored twice in its 5-2 victory Saturday. He put it upon himself to improve his play.

"I need to. There's no question about it," he said. "I can't look back."

And neither can the Senators, stymied by a more poised and opportunistic opponent. Ottawa's current three-game losing streak matches its longest slide of the season.

"We haven't been good enough," Alfredsson said. "There's no way around it. And we know that we have to get better. That's the challenge for us."

Ottawa also faces the challenge of overcoming its troubled playoff past. The Senators are in the conference finals for the first time in their 11-year history, after beating the New York Islanders in five games and the Philadelphia Flyers in six.

But the Senators are 0-6 in games in which they've faced elimination. The Devils, in comparison, have never lost a series (8-0) when holding a 3-1 lead.

Those are trends the Senators will be hard-pressed to reverse, considering the way New Jersey's playing.

The Devils are getting timely goals from role players: Checking forward Jay Pandolfo leads the team with three goals and five points against Ottawa. Martin Brodeur has given up only three goals on the last 83 shots he's faced.

"I guess we have taken control," Devil captain Scott Stevens said. "We are in pretty good shape, but we know that team is capable of putting a good string together and winning some games."

The Devils, who won the Stanley Cup in 2000, are on the verge of their third Stanley Cup finals appearance in four years.

The Devils are making sure not to look too far ahead with the Mighty Ducks waiting in the finals. They're aware that it's not impossible to rally from a 3-1 deficit, considering the Minnesota Wild did it twice this year and New Jersey did it against Philadelphia three years ago in the conference finals.

"I look at them and I see what we accomplished in 2000," Brodeur said. "By experience we did it, so we know it's doable. And in these playoffs a lot of weird things have happened."

*

Boston Bruin captain Joe Thornton was coming to the aid of his brother when he got into a confrontation with police that led to his arrest, investigators said.

Police in Thornton's hometown of St. Thomas, Canada, were called to Burty Bob's Two Tavern after a fight broke out around 2 a.m. Saturday, Sgt. Hank Zehr said.

Police ordered some of the people involved in the brawl to leave, including Thornton's 27-year-old brother John, Zehr told the London Free Press.

When an officer tried to handcuff John Thornton, Joe Thornton intervened. Two officers were pushed before the 23-year-old NHL star was pepper-sprayed, Zehr said.

Joe Thornton was charged with assaulting and obstructing police.

He was granted bail without travel restrictions and is scheduled to appear in St. Thomas court on June 17.

Bruin spokeswoman Heidi Holland and league spokesman Frank Brown both said Sunday they would wait for more facts before commenting on the incident.

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