Senators on verge of advancing to Eastern Conference final

NEW YORK — The Ottawa Senators have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in a decade with a win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. If the previous games in the best-of-seven series are any indication, they may need a comeback to do it.

Ottawa has allowed the first goal in every game and has trailed for almost 180 minutes over the series. Yet it is the Senators, and not the more experienced Rangers, who have a chance to move on with a win in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.

Reporters repeatedly asked the Senators players Monday to explain the phenomenon of falling behind early only to steal wins with dramatic comebacks. Forward Derick Brassard said the Senators have found a way to move on from the past and focus on the present.

“It happens during the stretch of the season (that) you’re going to have some lows and good teams figure it out quickly,” Brassard said after the Senators’ optional skate Monday at Madison Square Garden.

“If you’re (in) a losing streak, good teams find a way to get out of it. It’s a credit to the guys in the room and the guys that prepare us. (We’ve shown) a lot of character all season long. It’s everyone in this room trying to make a difference.”

There hasn’t any talk, at least publicly, about a potential conference final date with either the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins or the back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals.

“No, not really,” captain Erik Karlsson said. “It’s going to be another game. It’s probably going to be the toughest one so far. Some say the last game is the hardest one and that’s the mentality we have to have.

“To get that one more win that we want, it’s probably going to take a little bit more than what we’ve had in the past, and what we’ve had to do. We know that and we’re going to be prepared for that and do everything we can to play the way we feel we have to be successful.”

Senators coach Guy Boucher praised his team’s mentality in Game 5 after falling behind 2-0 in the first five minutes. Later, Ottawa trailed 4-3 after Ranger rookie left winger Jimmy Vesey scored with 7:12 left in regulation, but Brassard’s pinball goal with 1:26 forced overtime, leading to Kyle Turris’ game-winner at 6:28 of sudden death.

“You saw a pushback the last game,” said Boucher. “It didn’t matter if we didn’t start the right way. We weren’t going to do what we did in (Game 4) here and just give it away the rest of the game, just because all of a sudden (we were) impatient and come back in some other way than our way.

“The last game, when it was 2-0, on the bench the right things were said amongst the players — not from me– amongst themselves. Leadership was great. You could feel it. Guys had legs, we had energy, we had confidence and we were playing really well.”

Still, the Senators are returning to a building where they were outscored by an aggregate 8-2 in Games 3 and 4. The players dressed in different stalls, perhaps in a bid to change their fortunes. But when the topic was brought up to Boucher, he dismissed the ideas of superstition and luck.

“I’m not superstitious. I actually love to go against superstition,” he said. “I hate to be a slave to any superstition.

“We never wanted to be lucky. That’s one thing we told ourselves all year. We don’t want luck. We want to deserve what we do. If we don’t deserve to win, then we don’t win.”

Boucher did not divulge whether he would make changes to his lineup, opting to call it a “wait-and-see” situation.

The Rangers practised at their suburban Westchester, N.Y. practice facility. According to reports, Pavel Buchnevich rotated with Tanner Glass on New York’s fourth line during the practice.

Buchnevich replaced Glass following New York’s Game 3 loss to Montreal in the Eastern Conference quarter-final, but Alain Vigneault opted to dress the veteran Glass over the rookie right winger after the Rangers dropped the first two games of this series.