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OTTAWA - The flag of the Ottawa Senators flies throughout Canada's capital, flapping closely next to the red Ma-ple Leaf in front of hotels, office buildings and in car windows.

It was also spotted outside a funeral parlor, which could be an omen if things don't change tonight on the home ice of the Eastern Conference champions.

The Senators are back on familiar ground after dropping the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals to the Ana-heim Ducks in Southern California.

Ottawa is getting set to host the championship series, for the first time in 80 years when the original version of the team won the 1927 championship, and the city is hoping for its first Cup victory since the Senators were reborn in 1992.

So far, the Ducks have carried the play and looked dominant. That's quite a change for the Senators, who flew through three rounds in the East by winning each in five games - including a thrashing of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Buffalo Sabres in the conference finals.

Two one-goal losses in Anaheim put the Senators on the brink of making a quick exit, and they will need to make the most of their first home game in 17 days to change the slippery slope on which they're sliding.

"We feel we can be a lot better, and I feel playing at home is going to bring that out of us," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said Friday. "We fought a lot of adversity throughout the year, and I think the way we responded makes me comfortable going into (Game 3)."

Senators goalie Ray Emery has stopped 120 of 129 shots over the past five games - including 59 of 63 against Ana-heim - but is only 2-3 to show for it.

"He's exactly what we expected," Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "We've been playing against pretty good goal-tenders all the way through here, and nothing changed in this series. He's a great goaltender who competes hard and we've just got to find ways to get pucks behind him."

Players arrived at Scotiabank Place on Friday morning for a team meeting before practice. No one was too forthcoming about the details of the get-together, but expect some new wrinkles when the Senators hit the ice tonight.

"It's top-secret plays," defenseman Chris Phillips joked. "It was an upbeat meeting, talking about some things in the game plan that we'd like to do differently. And for the most part it was a positive meeting."

The Ducks showed all the signs of a loose team that is having fun and trying not to allow their thoughts to wander to what lies in store if they win two more games. Defenseman Scott Niedermayer is the only Anaheim player to have his name on the Cup, so this is all new territory for his teammates.

A quick goal in Game 3 on Saturday night could throw a whole lot of doubt and fear into a home crowd that is hop-ing for Canada's first Stanley Cup champion since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

"You can't get caught up. It's only Game 3," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "To start looking too far ahead, that's when you get into trouble. You've got to worry about the task at hand, that's Game 3 and coming out prepared and focused.

"They're obviously going to come with their best effort. Their home crowd is going to be behind them. They'll have the energy and the excitement and the buzz behind them."


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