What a difference a year can make.
One year ago the last game of the season left the Ottawa Senators with a bitter taste of disappointment as they missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
This year the Senators will return to the playoffs having finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 44-32-6 record.
The Senators wrapped up the regular season Saturday night with a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Ottawa will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs. It will be the third time in the past four years that these two teams meet in the playoffs.
"We're excited, it's going to be a great challenge," said Mike Fisher. "They're obviously experienced and are going to elevate their game and that's what we need to do to beat these guys. We need to elevate our game."
Thomas Vanek scored four goals for the Sabres, while Chris Neil and Shawn Donovan scored the lone goal for the Senators.
The evening also included a celebration of Daniel Alfredsson reaching the 1,000 games played milestone earlier in the week.
"He's done a lot for this team and it was nice for him to get some recognition," said Fisher. "He deserves all of it."
Despite the loss the evening remained memorable for Alfredsson.
"It's not too often you remember a loss, but I'll remember this day for a long time," said Alfredsson. "It's overwhelming when you have that many people calling your name. It meant a lot."
The past year also made a big difference for Fisher who scored a career high 25 goals and 53 points in 78 games. Fisher was also named an alternate captain this season and has earned the praise of head coach Cory Clouston for his ability to play in all situations.
"It's nice to have a good year offensively," said Fisher. "Especially after last year I felt like I needed this kind of year, but it's not over it's just kind of beginning. All that means nothing it's about competing in the playoffs and trying to make this team the best team possible and doing some damage in the playoffs."