The Buffalo Sabres may boast the NHL's leading scorer, but Thomas Vanek's sizzling scoring pace has translated into precious few wins for the struggling club.
With losses in six of their last seven games, Vanek and the Sabres will try to get in the win column when they visit the Ottawa Senators for Tuesday's clash at Scotiabank Place.
Vanek is the NHL's reigning First Star of the Week after posting five goals and five assists in four games from Jan. 29-Feb. 3. The Austrian winger has recorded a point in all eight of his games this season and he's leading the NHL with 19 points on eight goals and 11 assists.
Although Vanek has scored five times during a three-game goal-scoring streak, the Sabres only managed to go 1-2-0 in those contests and the club is coming off Sunday's 4-3 loss to the visiting Florida Panthers. Former Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell scored the deciding goal in the third period to lift the Panthers to victory at First Niagara Center.
Vanek and Cody Hodgson each had a goal and two assists, while Alexander Sulzer also lit the lamp. Ryan Miller made 29 saves for Buffalo, which held a 3-1 lead early in the second before allowing Florida to take control of the game.
"We had some opportunities at 3-1 to put them away," said Buffalo's Jason Pominville. "We didn't capitalize and they went the other way on the rush chances and they put them away."
Buffalo is 2-3-0 on the road this season, but the Sabres have posted victories in six of their last seven trips to Ottawa. All told, the Senators have lost nine of the last 13 meetings in this series.
Ottawa enters Tuesday's game on a two-game skid and the club managed to score just one goal over those two losses. After getting shut out 1-0 at Carolina on Friday, the Senators were on the wrong end of Sunday's 2-1 decision at Montreal. Jakob Silfverberg scored the lone goal while Craig Anderson stopped 30 shots for the Senators, who have dropped four of their past six games after a 3-0 start to the season.
Sunday's loss was surrounded by controversy as Ottawa appeared to get the tying goal early in the third period only to see it waved off due to a goaltender interference call against Silfverberg.
"We thought it was a good goal but the refs saw something else," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said about the penalty. "We celebrated and then someone told us they were waiving it off. I don't think anybody anticipated that at all. The ref must have seen something we missed and made the call."
Ottawa hopes to rebound on Tuesday at the start of a four-game homestand, which also features visits from Carolina and Winnipeg before the Sabres make another stop to Canada's capital city on Feb. 12. The Senators are 3-0-1 as the host this season.
Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar (flu) and forward Guillaume Latendresse (whiplash) are questionable for Tuesday. Gonchar was scratched from Sunday's game, but was able to participate in Tuesday's morning skate and should be ready to return from his illness. Meanwhile, Latendresse has sat out the last two games with injury and is expected to miss his third straight contest on Tuesday.