History lessened

Senators head coach Bryan Murray directs practice at Scotiabank Place on Monday morning. (Sun...

Senators head coach Bryan Murray directs practice at Scotiabank Place on Monday morning. (Sun Media/Blair Gable)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

History is not on their side, but the Senators are looking to turn a new page in a rivalry that's fallen in the Buffalo Sabres' favour.

The Senators, 0-3 against the Sabres in the playoffs, will begin their Eastern Conference final against the Sabres on Thursday night in Buffalo. Game 2 is on Saturday, with the series shifting to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.

Who can forget some of the classic Sabres-Senators battles?

- In 1997, Derek Plante beat Ron Tugnutt for the Game 7 overtime winner. A Senators' victory in their playoff debut would have been a major upset.

- In 1999, the Senators were knocked off in four straight, with Dominik Hasek stonewalling Ottawa.

- Last spring, the Senators dropped a 7-6 decision in Game 1 and never really recovered, with Jason Pominville scoring the overtime winner in Game 5. Hasek again hurt the Senators, this time in an Ottawa uniform. He refused to come off the injury list to play.

"History doesn't mean an awful lot, other than you have to learn from it," said Senators coach Bryan Murray.

"(The Sabres) have been a top team in the East and they've learned about themselves after the playoffs last year against Carolina. They've got a hunger and we have the same type of thing."

After knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils (both in five games) in the first two rounds, the Senators are confident.

"We look at it like we have a chance to play for the Cup here," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We are going to enjoy this and try to make the most of it. We're looking forward to it. The further you go in the playoffs, the tougher the challenge gets."

Centre Jason Spezza said preparations for the Sabres will be easy.

"We're going to have meetings, but we probably don't need meetings. We know what they're going to bring and they know what they're going to bring," said Spezza. "There's going to be a lot of emotion attached."

Murray said the Senators are building up a good rivalry against the Sabres.

"There's no question that we've had good games against Buffalo," said Murray. "Having been in the playoffs against them, there's no question that you build up a real rivalry."


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