Published January 13, 2015
The Ottawa Senators will aim for just their second win in eight games when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for a Saturday afternoon clash at First Niagara Center.
The Senators have one win over the last seven games but Ottawa has been adept at gaining points during the slide, posting a 1-2-4 record during the stretch. After beating the New York Rangers on March 8, the Sens have lost consecutive games in the shootout phase.
Ottawa will need to start picking up some wins, however, if it wants to keep its current standing in the Eastern Conference. With 32 points, the Senators are tied for fifth in the conference with New Jersey and just one point ahead of Toronto.
After losing 3-2 in Monday's shootout against Boston, the Senators dropped a 4-3 decision versus the Montreal Canadiens. Lars Eller scored the winning goal in the breakaway session to lift the Northeast-leading Habs to the home victory.
In the third round, Eller faked to the backhand before snapping in a forehand past Robin Lehner and Carey Price upheld the win by stopping Kyle Turris' wrister.
Daniel Alfredsson, Patrick Wiercioch and Mika Zibanejad all scored for the Senators. Lehner took the loss despite stopping 42 shots in a strong effort.
"We got a point and against a first-place team that's not bad," said Alfredsson. "We took both Boston and Montreal to shootouts so we're pretty pleased with that aspect. Lehner kept us in this game the whole night."
Ottawa fell to 4-7-3 as the away team this season and is capping a brief two- game trip on Saturday.
Although the Sabres are currently seven points out of a playoff spot, Buffalo was able to halt a four-game slide in its last trip to the ice, recording a 3-1 win Tuesday against the visiting New York Rangers.
Marcus Foligno scored a pair of goals and Jhonas Enroth turned in a strong substitute start between the pipes to lead the Sabres to their first win since a shootout decision against New Jersey on March 2.
"We've had leads and lost them so this was nice to put together," said Foligno. "We really played a 60-minute game and hopefully we can build together from this."
Thomas Vanek also had a goal for Buffalo, with Andrej Sekera recording two assists in the triumph.
Filling in for an ill Ryan Miller, who was held out of the contest due to a sinus infection, Enroth stopped 32-of-33 shots to earn his first NHL victory since Nov. 26, 2011.
Miller expects to be back in net on Saturday for the Sabres.
Sabres forward Ville Leino also expects to make his season debut on Saturday after sitting out his team's first 27 games with a hip injury. Leino had a disappointing first season with Buffalo in 2011-12, posting just eight goals and 17 assists in 71 games after signing a six-year, $27 million deal with the Sabres.
Buffalo also expects forward Tyler Ennis to play Saturday after missing one game with a head injury. Ennis is fourth on the team with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) this season.
To make room, the Sabres sent rookie forward Mikhail Grigorenko back to juniors after he posted one goal and four assists in 22 games this season. However, the 12th overall pick of the most recent draft was averaging just 9:44 of ice time and because he played in more than five games this season, the first year of his three-year entry level has kicked in.
General manager Darcy Regier also dealt defenseman TJ Brennan to the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round selection in the 2013 draft on Friday.
The Sabres are 5-6-1 as the host this season, but Ottawa has earned victories in each of its last two trips to Western New York. The Senators have claimed five of seven overall in this series and recorded a 2-0 win in Ottawa back on Feb. 12.