Dressed in black and wearing a frown to match, brooding Buffalo Sabres co-captain Chris Drury made it clear that his focus was on the future and not the past.

Drury wouldn't entertain questions about what happened during a game in Buffalo on Feb. 22 when he was knocked out and bloodied by Ottawa forward Chris Neil's blindside hit. He was only looking forward to getting the best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series started in Buffalo tonight.

"I don't really have any feelings on it," Drury said. "For me, it ended when I stood up, got stitched up, showered, and that was it.

"I don't think I have a choice. If you get caught looking behind you, you're not going to be ready for the next challenge. It's our job to get mentally and physically ready for Game 1."

"That's part of hockey," said Neil, who was not penalized on the play. "If that hit's there in the playoffs, I'm going to make it. I've got to play physical. I want him to be aware when I'm on the ice."

The series is a rematch from last year, when Buffalo eliminated Ottawa, then the East's top-seeded team, in five games in a second-round series.

The Sabres are in the conference finals for the second straight year, attempting to advance to the Stanley Cup final for the third time, first since losing a six-game series to Dallas in 1999.

The Senators are making only their second conference finals appearance, and have never advanced to the Cup finals.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has appeared in every playoff game in franchise history, and believes this year is different.

"There's so many things that are different that you can't compare it to previous years," he said. "We're happy where we are now. And we're happy at this stage, four teams left, and we're just going to try to make the most of it."

Neither team has yet to trail in a series this postseason. Buffalo eliminated the New York Islanders in five games in the first round, then put out the Rangers in six games. Ottawa knocked out Pittsburgh and New Jersey, both in five games.

At the World Championships:

* At Moscow, Evgeni Malkin scored two goals to help Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-0, and Tony Martensson scored three goals in defending champion Sweden's 7-4 win over Slovakia.

Russia, undefeated in seven games and bidding for its first title since 1993, will play the United States or Finland on Saturday, while Sweden will face Canada or Switzerland.

"It's just an unbelievable atmosphere right now. We win the game and everyone supports us," Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin said. "We feel good and we can't wait for the next game."

New Jersey Devils right wing Sergei Brylin joined Russia hours before the game, and the national team is also reportedly trying to persuade San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov and New York Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin to join the team for the semifinals. *