Senators in no hurry

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

BUFFALO -- They're six months older and a half year wiser. Their tastes, like their skills, are refined, developed.

And yet somehow, the Senators were still in no hurry to get back to Buffalo.

Go figure.

Rather than fly here after Monday's 4-2 character win over the Habs, the Senators bucked the normal routine by staying in Montreal another night, practising at the Bell Centre yesterday afternoon, then finally traveling to the Queen City. They take on the Sabres at HSBC Arena, the scene of their greatest victory, at 7:30 p.m.

"It was the players' request," coach John Paddock of the itinerary. "They'd rather spend time in Montreal than Buffalo."

Uh oh, Corvo. Do these guys dare again rile the natives, as Ray Emery did in last spring's Eastern Conference final, when he suggested Buffalo is borrrrring?

Jason Spezza?

"In Montreal, there's a lot going on," the slick centre explained, chuckling, when asked about this so-called request. "I didn't say anything about Buffalo. I just said Montreal is a good city to stay and, um, have dinner in."

Alrighty then.

Emery, who had the longest skate of anyone to celebrate Daniel Alfredsson's goal here May 19 that gave the Senators their first berth into the Stanley Cup final, will be back in goal tonight. He'll be making his first start in almost two weeks and just his fourth of the season.

"Just one game at a time," he said, dressed in a resplendent brown suit with white pinstripes, when asked about this being a chance to earn himself further consideration. "I like playing a lot, and I get to play (tonight). That's all that matters right now.

"I couldn't care less who I was playing," he added, at the suggestion playing the Sabres would be an extra special deal. "I just want to win."

That never been an easy task for Ottawa goalies here.

The big one aside, the Senators have won just 11 of the 39 regular-season games they've played in Buffalo.

"Our team has a little history in Buffalo, good and bad," said Paddock. "The last time was good in there. I expect our team to be excited by that and I expect (the Sabres) to be excited by it."

Responding well after a stinky loss in Toronto was important to the Senators.

"It was a good bounceback in terms of playing good," said Paddock. "The result was a bonus."

The result also extended a streak the players are proud of. They haven't lost two straight regular-season, regulation-time games since last Dec. 19-21 vs. Boston and Tampa Bay.

NO LOSING STREAKS

"It's something we talked about, starting last year," said Spezza. "You're going to lose games, you play so many of them. But we've got to really guard against not getting in losing streaks."

Spezza figures the Sabres will be tough, despite the fact their last in the division and second last in the conference.

"They're always exciting games in Buffalo," he said. "They're struggling a bit ... but it seems every team is getting up to play us right now. Sometimes, this time of year, a team can get free wins, because the other team comes in not focused. But with us, that's not the case. Teams coming in every night, and it seems they're saying we're the measuring stick for them. We know that teams are gunning for us a bit, so we have to be ready."


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