Ottawa Senators Official Website FRANÇAIS Official Site of the Ottawa Senators
Only 4 home games left!
Features
 

Sens setting sights on Sabres

Showdown in Buffalo a big chance for Ottawa to narrow gap

Tuesday, 02.2.2010 / 2:26 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
X
Share with your Friends


Sens setting sights on Sabres
Jason Spezza and the streaking Ottawa Senators hope to edge closer to the top of the Northeast Division standings with a victory over the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday night (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).
With each passing day, it seems, the gap between them shrinks just a little bit more.

Now it can be said the Ottawa Senators have the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres squarely in the crosshairs as the two teams prepare for a huge showdown on Wednesday night at HSBC Arena in Buffalo (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

Only five points now separate the old rivals, thanks in great part to the franchise-record nine-game winning streak Ottawa (31-21-4) is currently riding. The Sabres (32-15-7), meanwhile, are 2-4-1 in their last seven outings, though they still own a pair of games in hand. What they're still waiting for — in this season, at least — is a victory over the Senators, who are a perfect 3-0-0 against Buffalo in 2009-10.

"It's just the way it is sometimes against certain teams," captain Daniel Alfredsson said when asked to explain the Senators' recent hex over the Sabres, a run of dominance that extends all the way back to Ottawa's triumph in the 2007 Eastern Conference final. "There are teams we've been struggling against for a long time and there are others that you always seem to find a way to win (against).

"I think what Buffalo does is definitely play a good style and put a lot of pressure on you, so you have to be prepared. If you're not, they're going to score three or four goals in the first period. They're a very hard, aggressive forechecking team and it brings the best out of us."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston no doubt recalls that his first National Hockey League win came almost a year ago — Feb. 7, 2009, to be exact — when Ottawa edged the Sabres 3-2 in a shootout thriller. Clouston's record against the Sabres is a gaudy 7-0-0, but don't expect the Sens bench boss to take any of that for granted.

"(The Sabres) are just a good hockey team," he said after the Senators held a 45-minute practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place before shuffling off to Buffalo. "They deserve to be where they are in the standings. They've got very good offensive players. They've got a potential rookie of the year (Tyler Myers) on the back end. They've got a lot of good players.

"It's not just (goaltender Ryan) Miller. You can't have that kind of success with one player."

"We’re closing in on these guys and the only way you can catch them is by beating them head-to-head, so it’s an important game. You want to put a little more pressure on them going into the break. If they win, they have a little more breathing room. So we want to make sure we close the gap and make sure we let them know we’re there." - Jason Spezza
But hot as they've been lately, the Senators clearly know there is a huge opportunity at hand to turn up the heat on the Sabres as the Olympic break approaches.

"We’re closing in on these guys and the only way you can catch them is by beating them head-to-head, so it’s an important game," said Senators centre Jason Spezza, who hopes to extend a career-best six-game goal-scoring streak. "You want to put a little more pressure on them going into the break. If they win, they have a little more breathing room.

"So we want to make sure we close the gap and make sure we let them know we’re there."

Extending their winning streak to an even 10? Just a bonus, said forward Chris Neil.

"We’re just taking it game by game," he said. "It doesn’t matter how many games in a row we win, as long as we’re winning. Whenever you lose five in a row, those are the ones you remember. It’s not a matter of winning eight or nine or 12 in a row or 15.

"As long as you have a winning feeling in the dressing room, that’s half the battle. You lose one, you want to get right back on that winning track and get things rolling again."

Around the boards

After tomorrow, the Senators and Sabres have two more scheduled meetings — March 26 in Buffalo and April 10 in the season finale for both teams at Scotiabank Place ... Defenceman Anton Volchenkov returned to practice this morning, meaning he should be available in Buffalo ... The Senators have won a season-best five straight on the road ... Ottawa is back home on Thursday night to face the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet).


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
3 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
4 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
5 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
6 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
7 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
8 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 74 19 41 9 60
K. Turris 74 22 32 -1 54
B. Ryan 70 18 35 9 53
M. Stone 72 19 33 14 52
M. Hoffman 71 26 20 19 46
M. Zibanejad 72 19 24 2 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 54 13 14 -10 27
D. Legwand 72 9 18 2 27
A. Chiasson 68 11 15 -4 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Hammond 14 1 1 .938 1.92
C. Anderson 14 12 8 .923 2.48