OTTAWA - With his team on the brink of elimination, Ottawa Senators head coach Dave Cameron is once again considering a change in goal.
Down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in their Eastern Conference quarter-final, Cameron wouldn't confirm Tuesday whether Craig Anderson would make his second straight start or if he would go back to Andrew Hammond.
Anderson, who made 47 saves in Sunday's 2-1 overtime loss in just his fifth game since Jan. 21, would seem to be the favourite to start. However, Cameron said he wanted to speak to Anderson prior to making a decision.
The Ottawa coach also needs to find a way to have his players generate offence and eliminate second-period setbacks. Montreal has scored six of its nine goals in the middle stanza and Cameron said that a team meeting Tuesday was spent discussing his squad's mid-game struggles.
The Senators, who finished the regular season with five 20-goal scorers, have managed only six goals over three playoff games. One player in a major slump is star forward Bobby Ryan, who hasn't scored in 16 games.
"Mentally exhausting is a good way to put it," said Ryan. "I think I've watched every game four, five times ad nauseam looking for opportunities and things and holes in their game and where I can generate more. Dave (Cameron) and (goalie coach Rick Walmsley) have been great for me. We all recognize it's right there, they're not dropping and there's not a lot of time left for it to turn so you hope it starts (Wednesday) and continues."
Ottawa says part of the game plan for Wednesday's must-win home game is to make things more challenging for Montreal netminder Carey Price.
"We know he's good when he sees the puck so we need to put a lot of traffic and try and put someone in front of the net," said Senators centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau. "I think our line can always bring a little more. We have a lot of chances, we work hard, we try to pay attention to a lot of details. We just need the bounces now."
Despite the challenge ahead, the Senators remain confident and say it's a matter of taking each game as it comes, much as they did during the last month of the regular season when they were battling for a playoff spot.
"Our backs were against the wall for the last 40 games or 30 games or whatever it was and the guys responded," said Ryan. "I think you draw on that experience and where we were and how every game was a must-win. Now it really is. That's the reality of the situation so we're not comfortable with it, but we're prepared for it."
After a magical run to get into the playoffs, the Senators say they're not ready to see it come to an end.
"This group isn't prepared for that," said Ryan. "It's been too much fun the last month and a half, two months. Guys aren't prepared for it to end and it would be a shame to end in that fashion so I fully expect a heck of a punch out of this group."
Notes: The Senators plan to use Zack Smith on a line with Mike Hoffman and Chris Neil for Game 4. Smith replaces David Legwand. Defenceman Erik Karlsson and right-winger Mark Stone were given maintenance days Tuesday. Defenceman Chris Phillips was to undergo back surgery on Tuesday.