Eastern Conference preview

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

SEASON SERIES

Marked by a bitter home-and-home on Feb. 22-24 in which 22 goals and nastiness ensued, the Ottawa Senators won the eight-game set against the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. They took three of four at Ottawa and their power play roared at a 30% clip in the series.

LAST PLAYOFF MEETING

The media got plenty of mileage all summer from John Muckler's press-box rant after Jason Pominville beat Daniel Alfredsson and Ray Emery for the short-handed overtime winner to give Buffalo a win in five games. The Sabres also won previous series in seven and four games.

SKINNY

This is a series most have been anticipating since October, with the Chris Neil hit on Chris Drury giving more to fuel to the Sabres. But if the Sabres couldn't be rattled by Sean Avery and Ottawa by Gary Roberts, discipline should reign ... The trio of Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley hold three of the top five places in playoff scoring and combined for a whopping 39 points in the season series ... Ottawa has been playing more cohesively and getting better contributions from its defence, but give the slight edge in the all-important goal rankings to Buffalo's Ryan Miller over Ray Emery, even though Emery is 9-2 versus Buffalo ... Key match-up will pit Sabres defenceman Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman on the Spezza line ... Sabres have a 5-1 lead in playoff overtime games.

HURTING

Buffalo centre Jochen Hecht is questionable for Game 1 with a sore groin. Ottawa centre Mike Comrie has not practised the past two days, because of a suspected shoulder injury, but is probable. Forward Patrick Eaves has not played since midway through the Pittsburgh series after getting a head/neck injury.

POSSIBLE HERO

Anton Volchenkov has been an ardent shot blocker for the Senators and will have a busy series ... Drury's knack for big goals won't likely stop now.


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