Ottawa

Sens in NHL conference finals: Will the third time be a charm?

The series that begins Saturday night between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins is just the third time the Senators have advanced to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sens to face-off with Penguins Saturday night

Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan (9) celebrates with teammate Clarke MacArthur (16) after his goal during the second period of game one of the NHL playoff series with the Boston Bruins. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The series that begins Saturday night between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins is just the third time the Senators have advanced to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Their first appearance was in 2003 when, after a 102-point regular season, they faced Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in the conference final.

That series provided one of the best and certainly one of the worst moments in franchise history.

The former came when Chris Phillips scored an overtime goal at Brendan Byrne Arena in game six to force a deciding game two nights later at the Canadian Tire Centre, formerly known as Scotiabank Place.

But that just led to another playoff heartbreak for Ottawa fans: With just over two minutes to go in a 2-2 tie, Wade Redden and Karel Rachunek got crossed up — with both covering Grant Marshall as he charged into the Senators zone — leaving Jeff Friesen wide open to take Marshall's pass and chip the game winner past Patrick Lalime.

Four years later, a team led by Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley earned another trip to the final four.

They made the most of it with Alfredsson famously sneaking a 60-foot wrist shot past Ryan Miller in overtime to eliminate the Buffalo Sabres en route to their first and only Stanley Cup final in modern franchise history.

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