Sens battling history

Senators coach Bryan Murray had his game face on yesterday as he discussed his team's predicament...

Senators coach Bryan Murray had his game face on yesterday as he discussed his team's predicament heading into Game 3 of their second-round playoff series against the Sabres. (Ottawa Sun/Sean Kilpatrick)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

BUFFALO -- The picture looks bleak, but the Senators still vow they've got what it takes to defy their sorry post-season history.

Simply put, it'll take some franchise history if the Senators are to overcome the 2-0 deficit they're facing in the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Buffalo Sabres.

The next two games in the series -- tonight and tomorrow -- will be played at what figures to be a raucous HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

But the time has come for the Senators to put up or shut up after losing two straight games at home. They've talked all season about being Stanley Cup contenders, so a quick second-round exit would qualify as nothing less than a massive disappointment.

History isn't in Ottawa's favour. Four times before this season, the Senators fell into a 2-0 hole in a playoff series. They lost all four -- two of them four-game sweeps, against the Sabres in 1999 and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2001.

In 2000, Ottawa rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie a first-round series with the Leafs 2-2, but still went out in six games.

TIME FOR A CHANGE

But the Senators insist it'll be different this time.

"There are 30 teams in this league. We are one of eight teams and it's disappointing for any team that gets eliminated if they don't win the Stanley Cup," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson after the Senators arrived in Buffalo last night.

"Of course, it would be disappointing if we got eliminated and didn't win the Stanley Cup because that is our goal. But I love this time of year and I'm definitely excited to be here and have the opportunity to get back into this series. We know we're facing a tough situation, but we all believe we can get the job done."

The Senators believe they've still got an edge if they can find a way to repeat the success they had against the Sabres goaltender in Game 1, a 7-6 overtime loss.

Ottawa has outshot Buffalo 70-44 through the first two games. But Miller has made more timely saves than Senators goalie Ray Emery and that has been the difference.

The Senators don't seem fazed by the daunting task ahead of them.

"Definitely, the guys are excited," said Senators winger Peter Schaefer. "We didn't want to get down 2-0, but we got ourselves in that situation and now we're excited to be here and hopefully get back to Ottawa tied 2-2. We've made key mistakes and they've capitalized on their chances. And (Miller) played great the last game. We've just got to keep going and stay positive."

It'll be tough enough just to get back to Ottawa for Game 5. Winning back-to-back games on the road can be tough, but many wonder if the Senators might feel less pressure away from home.

Senators centre Jason Spezza doesn't agree.

ROAD WARRIORS

"We like playing at home," he said. "Our fans are great. We had a pretty good home record throughout the year. It's not good to be out of Ottawa, but it's where we are. We're down two games and we have to find a way to win on the road.

"We've also been a pretty solid road team. We feel like our backs are to the wall and that will bring the best out of us."

Senators coach Bryan Murray said the pressure is on both teams going into this game.

"It's important for them because they're playing in front of their home-town fans and it's important for us because we need to win a game," said Murray.


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