Sens look to bury Sabres

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

The weather outside was frightful as the Senators arrived yesterday afternoon in Buffalo, where a storm had townsfolk 15 minutes south of the airport measuring the white stuff not in centimetres or even inches but in feet. As in four of them -- about up to Mike Comrie's shoulders --over the last few days.

Such accumulation plus the uncertainty of what the upcoming hours would bring was not great for the Sabres, who last night played the Southeast Division-leading Thrashers in Atlanta, about a two-hour flight away.

Logically, the ETA of their arrival back in Buffalo would therefore range anywhere from 12:30 a.m. to who-knows-when-or-if today.

The Senators, who are safely here and set to take on the Sabres at HSBC Arena (7 p.m.) tonight, are naturally concerned about any possible shortage of sleep facing the players on the top team in their division. Yeah, right.

"Do I care?" Daniel Alfredsson said, with a shrug and a smile, when the Sabres potential problems were raised as he passed through the hotel lobby on his way to dinner. "We're here."

The Senators, of course, don't have to dig too deep into their memory bank to recall having similar travel troubles while the next night's opponents had the luxury of an early flight and watching them play from their TVs in an Ottawa hotel.

After the jersey retiring ceremony and Ken Dryden speech (he IS finished now, right?) pre-empted their game last week against Montreal, they didn't get back home until 2 a.m. Just 17O hours later they were on Scotiabank Place ice to face Washington in a game they would hold on to win 3-2.

Ottawa was ahead 2-0 after one and was outshot 14-9 in the third.

"Washington waited for us and we still came out and played really strong," Alfredsson said earlier yesterday. "When you play a team that's played the night before, you have to give 'em hell early. If they come out and get up one or two goals, it makes life easier for them. You want to be even or up one, because in the long run you should be stronger in the third."

The Senators, too, should grasp any little advantage waved in front of their face this week. It won't be an easy one. After playing the Sabres, they'll be home to host the Canadiens tomorrow, then in Montreal for a rematch Saturday.

As of yesterday, the fifth-place Senators were one point behind the Habs and 11 in arrears of Buffalo.

"It's a good challenge for us," coach Bryan Murray said of the three-games-in-four days swing. "Obviously, we're going to have to play well.

"I think (Buffalo, Ottawa) are comparable teams in many ways, for the most part right now. It'll just be (a matter of getting) good goaltending and everyone working hard and hopefully we'll wind up on top."

The Senators have had all of that against Buffalo this season. After losing the initial meeting, they have gone on to win the next four. Ray Emery, who starts tonight, has been a large factor. He watched the first game then has been between the pipes since, compiling a 1.75 GAA and improving his career regular-season mark vs. Buffalo to 8-1-0-1.

With three games left against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, the Senators need to be like the snow and keeping piling on Buffalo if they are to have a shot at the top spot in the division.


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