Divisional rivals face off as Senators host Sabres
Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 12:05 AM
NHL.comSABRES (7-5-0) at SENATORS (7-7-0)
TV: CBC, MSG-B
Buffalo 5-5-0; Ottawa 6-4-0
First of six meetings between these Northeast Division rivals. The Sabres went 5-1 against the Senators last season, with 12 different players scoring at least one goal. Jason Spezza
and Daniel Alfredsson
led all scorers with three goals, with the Ottawa captain recording the hat trick in his team's only win of the series. He reached 1,000 career points in the process.
Both teams enter play Saturday with 14 points, five behind Toronto for the lead in both the division and the Eastern Conference. Both were in action Friday night and had their games decided by 2-1 scores, though the results differed. Buffalo came out on the winning end, while Ottawa dropped its second in a row.
Jhonas Enroth played a key role down the stretch last season in helping Buffalo make the playoffs when Ryan Miller battled injuries, and he's making a bid for more playing time this season by taking every advantage of the opportunities he's been given. Enroth improved to 3-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average and .958 save percentage after stopping 29 shots against visiting Calgary. The Sabres, who had lost four of five, got goals from Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe.
"We finally got a win here, and everyone can stop talking that we can't win here," Enroth said about the fact the team is only 3-4-0 at HSBC Arena. "It was really nice, and we're back on track now."
It's been a streaky start to the season for Ottawa, which wants to avoid letting this current one resemble the 1-5-0 stretch on which it started. The Senators then won six in a row to challenge the Maple Leafs for the division lead, but have since fallen back. They were edged by the resurgent Canadiens on Friday, getting a shorthanded goal from Zack Smith
early in the third to cut a two-goal deficit in half, but the equalizer never materialized.
"We really could've used (a power-play goal) tonight," coach Paul MacLean said. "Montreal did a good job of getting in the shooting lanes and not letting us get the puck to the net from the point, and we didn't did make the adjustments to get it to the net properly."
Thomas Vanek was held without a point for only the second time this season on Friday. He leads the Sabres with eight goals and 16 points. Jason Pominville, who has five goals and 15 points, was blanked for only the third time ... Senators defenceman Filip Kuba
has contributed five assists over the last four games.
Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis has been sidelined with a sprained ankle, while forward Jochen Hecht is on injured reserve due to a concussion ... Alfredsson also has a concussion and is currently out for Ottawa, while defenceman Matt Carkner
(knee) and forward Peter Regin
(shoulder) are on injured reserve.
Enroth put together a shutout streak of 107 minutes, 39 seconds over two starts and a relief appearance for the Sabres before giving up a third-period goal Friday to Alex Tanguay ... Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson
led all skaters with 26:33 of ice time and seven shots on goal against the Canadiens, but was also minus-2 and had a giveaway that led to the decisive score.
Vanek and Pominville have carried Buffalo at times offensively, but a couple of other key contributors, Stafford and Derek Roy, each snapped six-game point droughts in Friday's victory. Roy set up Stafford's goal, which came on a one-timer.
"It's one of things when things aren't going well, if you're going through a rough patch, you have to make sure that the work's still there," Stafford said. "I knew eventually one would go in and it just happened to go in tonight, so it felt pretty good."