MONTREAL -- Daniel Alfredsson has been a Canadiens-killer since he began his career as an Ottawa Senator in 1995, but he has never played Montreal in the playoffs.
The 40-year-old will finally get that chance when the Senators and Canadiens face off for the first time in the post-season tonight in the opening game of their best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final series at the Bell Centre.
"It's going to be a great series because of the cities being so close to each other," Alfredsson said Wednesday. "Ottawa's a pretty new franchise compared to Montreal (founded in 1909).
"And before we had the team, people were either Toronto or Montreal fans, so we have a lot of Montreal fans in Ottawa and we're converting them one step at a time. Winning this series would probably go a long way to helping that."
A long, tight series of one-goal games is expected from the two quick-skating teams. With eight players with 10 or more goals in the 48-game regular season, the Canadiens bring more scoring depth and one of the league's top power plays. Ottawa counters with the NHL's best penalty killing, thorough defensive play and a lot more size on the back end.
And they have 40-year-old Alfredsson, who has amassed 103 points in 85 career games against the Canadiens.
"He's good and very smart on the ice," said Montreal winger Michael Ryder, whose line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta will likely be shadowing the Senators' captain. "But I think if we play the way we can and get into the offensive zone and use that to our advantage we'll be fine.
"But you've got to watch him when he's out there."
There has never been a heated rivalry between the clubs, largely because they had not met in the post-season since Ottawa joined as an expansion team for the 1992-93, which was the year Montreal won the last of its record 24 Stanley Cups.
That is likely to change now that they are playing for keeps.
"Both teams are looking at doing whatever it takes to win games," said Alfredsson. "Usually, in a playoff series, incidents happen and rivalries get created because of it."
Goaltending will be key.
Montreal's Carey Price was having a dominant season until he and the team fell apart for a two-week stretch in April, but he rebounded with two decent outings in the final week and says he feels ready for the playoffs.
-- The Canadian Press