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GAME: Ottawa Senators (35-12-4) at Buffalo Sabres (33-15-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
In a matchup of the top clubs in the Northeast Division, the Ottawa Senators bring their resurgent special teams play to HSBC Arena to meet a Buffalo Sabres team looking for its fifth straight win.
The Senators, though, have won all three matchups with the Sabres this season by a 21-5 margin, including a 10-4 rout behind four goals and two assists from Daniel Alfredsson on Nov. 2 in Buffalo.
Special teams play helped Ottawa avoid a season-high third straight loss Thursday as Alfredsson scored a power-play and short-handed goal in the Senators' 7-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ottawa finished with both three power-play and short-handed goals while rallying from a 2-0 deficit. The Senators had been 0-for-8 on the power play in their previous two games, and had scored just three short-handed goals in their last 15 contests.
"They played well in the first period and got up 2-0 on us," said Alfredsson, who has five goals and five assists against Buffalo this season. "We scored some big short-handed goals that really got us going. It seemed like we were waiting for something to happen and when it did, we took over."
Ottawa's three short-handed goals were the most allowed by the Penguins since also giving up three on Nov. 16, 1988, to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Zdeno Chara and Dany Heatley scored on the power play, and Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher also tallied short-handed goals for the Senators.
"We were fairly calm early on, but we had some great chances," Fisher said. "We didn't want to panic because you really get nowhere panicking when you are down like we were. We just stayed calm and stuck to our plan."
Unlike the last matchup in Buffalo, the Sabres will have a hot goaltender in net as Ryan Miller looks for his season-high fifth win in a row.
Miller, snubbed for a chance to represent the United States later this month at the Turin Olympics, made 21 saves Thursday in Buffalo's 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Miller's omission from the Olympic team has irked Sabres fans, and they voiced their displeasure by chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" on Thursday.
"It was flattering to hear them. Our fans are great," said Miller, who was recovering from a broken thumb when the Sabres lost 10-4 to the Senators in early November. "It just feels really good."
Rookie Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist in the win over Philadelphia, giving him three goals and three assists in a career-best four-game point streak.
STANDINGS: Senators - 74 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Sabres - 69 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Alfredsson, 34 goals and 73 points; Jason Spezza, 44 assists; Chris Neil, 129 PIM. Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 20 goals; Tim Connolly, 29 assists; Chris Drury, 41 points; Andrew Peters, 58 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senators - Power play: 20.9 percent (67 for 320), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (273 for 322), 5th (tied). Sabres - Power play: 21.4 percent (65 for 304), 2nd. Penalty killing: 85.8 percent (235 for 274), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Senators - Dominik Hasek (27-8-3, 5 SO, 2.05 GAA); Ray Emery (8-4-1, 1, 3.22). Sabres - Miller (17-7-0, 2.24); Martin Biron (15-6-3, 2.98).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 12; Senators, 6-1. At Ottawa, Heatley had two goals and an assist, and Emery made 24 saves for the Senators.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 15-7-3 on the road; Sabres - 16-7-2 at home.
|Apr 08 '06||BUF 6 at OTT 2||T. Pyatt|
|Apr 05 '06||OTT 4 at BUF 5 - OT||D. Briere|
|Mar 24 '06||OTT 3 at BUF 1||A. Vermette|
|Mar 18 '06||BUF 2 at OTT 4||B. Smolinski|
|Feb 04 '06||OTT 1 at BUF 2 - SO||T. Vanek|
|Nov 12 '05||BUF 1 at OTT 6||D. Alfredsson|
|Nov 02 '05||OTT 10 at BUF 4||M. Havlat|
|Oct 08 '05||BUF 0 at OTT 5||J. Spezza|