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Senators understand challenge Penguins will present

by Erin Nicks

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators learned Saturday night that they would be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, leading some to wonder how the Senators will handle another round of drama after their emotional series with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Senators have a postseason history with the Penguins -- they haven't beaten Pittsburgh in the playoffs since 2007, where they were victorious in the first round en route to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, and eventual loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Since that time, the Senators have lost twice to the Penguins, in 2008 and 2010, both series taking place in the quarterfinals.

The incident this season involving Penguins wing Matt Cooke and Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson did nothing to warm relations between the two clubs. Cooke's skate sliced through the left Achilles tendon of Karlsson during a game on Feb. 13, and the Swede required surgery to repair the cut.

Much was made of the incident at the time, but Karlsson is ready to move forward and refuses to let history become a distraction.

Erik Karlsson
Defense - OTT
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 6
SOG: 13 | +/-: 5
"I don't have many thoughts," Karlsson said. "Whatever happened, happened. I'm playing and I'm happy. It's not something that I'm thinking about and I'm sure [Cooke] isn't thinking about it, either. I think we're going to talk about it for a couple of days before the series [begins] and then be done with it. We don't need to worry about [Cooke.] They have a couple of guys who are more dangerous, and we have to go out and play our best game if we want to beat Pittsburgh."

Defenseman Jared Cowen noticed some of the success that the New York Islanders had against the Penguins in their series in pushing Pittsburgh to six games.

"The Islanders play kind of similar to us," Cowen said about the way they pressured on the forecheck. "I think we can simulate that, but maybe have more success in the offensive zone."

"I don't think any other team was as consistent [in the East] as the Penguins throughout the regular season, even though they had their struggles with injuries," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "You look at them 5-on-5, you have to be good. And special teams, they have to be in our favor.

"I think we're a different team [than in previous playoff losses to the Penguins]. So are they, but their core has been together for a while and has some experience. They're always a team that for the last four or five years, has always been a significant force. We know we're in for a tough task. But the tougher the road, the bigger the reward."

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