Sabres continue homestand against Sens
Monday, 12.12.2011 / 10:58 PM
NHL.comSENATORS (13-13-4) at SABRES (15-12-2)
: SNET-E, TVA, MSG-B
: Ottawa 3-4-3; Buffalo 3-5-2.
: Tuesday's matchup is the third of six meetings between these Northeast Division rivals, who square off two more times in December. These clubs played twice in a six-day span in early November, with Buffalo continuing its recent success over the Senators. The Sabres have won six straight over the Sens, including four in a row at home.
On Nov. 5 in Ottawa, Derek Roy scored a goal in regulation and again in the sixth round of the shootout to give Buffalo a 3-2 victory. On Nov. 11 at the First Niagara Center, Roy notched a goal and two assists, Drew Stafford posted three assists and Jhonas Enroth made 36 saves in the Sabres' 5-1 win. Enroth was the winning goaltender in both affairs, while Craig Anderson
took the loss in each contest -- and was pulled in the second meeting after allowing two goals on six shots in the first 2:25.
: Both teams have just three wins in their last 10 games. After turning some heads in the first month of the season, the Senators are now a .500 club, having lost three in a row and going 1-3-2 in their last six. For the Sabres, home has not been so sweet, dropping seven of their last nine games at the First Niagara Center. Overall, Buffalo has not won back-to-back games since a four-game winning streak from Nov. 4-11.
: The Senators gave five man-advantage opportunities to the top-ranked power play in the League on Saturday, and it cost them. Vancouver visited Scotiabank Place and scored two power-play goals en route to a 4-1 victory, as Ottawa's lone goal came from Colin Greening
. The Sens had five chances on the power play as well, but could not convert -- they didn't even register a shot on a two-man advantage for 1:18 early in the third period when they trailed 3-1.
"When it comes down to it, their power play was better than ours," coach Paul MacLean said. "We're always concerned when we don't win. I think the way that we did it tonight, we played hard against a real good team. We played them physical but there are still areas of our game that have to get better."
: Buffalo is 1-1-1 on its current five-game homestand, which has featured three of the toughest teams in the Eastern Conference. After a loss to Philadelphia and a win over Florida (both decisions came in overtime), the Sabres were defeated by the Rangers 4-1 on Saturday to fall to 7-9-2 at home. Only 1:04 after New York took a 1-0 lead, Thomas Vanek responded with his team-leading 14th goal of the season to knot the score midway through the second. But Vanek's tally was the only one of Buffalo's 33 shots to elude former Sabre Martin Biron, as the Rangers controlled play from that point. The Sabres fell behind 2-1 late in the period when they surrendered their second shorthanded goal of the stanza. Two more New York goals in the third -- including one on the power play -- provided the final margin.
Enroth was in goal for the first time in just over a week and suffered his third consecutive loss. The Swedish netminder, who won his first six decisions this season, has dropped six of his last seven.
"The last couple of games have been a little worse than the beginning of the year," Enroth said. "Hockey goes up and down, just like normal life. So it's nothing I'm walking around and thinking about. I always trust myself and trust my skills."
: Senators forward Milan Michalek
, who is tied with Toronto's Phil Kessel and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the League lead with 18 goals, has scored in five of his last seven. In addition, Jason Spezza
has five assists in his last five games. … Buffalo forward Jason Pominville has points in his last three and six of his last seven (two goals, five assists).
: Ottawa welcomed a couple of players back into the lineup on Saturday. Forward Peter Regin
played his first game since Oct. 20 and defenseman Matt Carkner
made his season debut. With those two players suiting up, that leaves Filip Kuba
(upper body) on IR, while Sergei Gonchar
(upper body) missed Saturday's game and is day-to-day. … The injury-riddled Sabres could be getting some players back soon as well. Coach Lindy Ruff told the team’s website that forwards Paul Gaustad (upper body) and Patrick Kaleta (groin) are close to returning, and he "expects one or even both to be back sometime this week." Ruff also said there is a possibility that defenceman Mike Weber (upper body) will play against Ottawa. There is still no timetable for the return of Tyler Myers (broken wrist), who remains sidelined along with Brad Boyes (knee), Nathan Gerbe (head), Corey Tropp (upper body) and Jochen Hecht (lower body).
: After giving up two shorthanded goals to the Rangers on Saturday, the Sabres have now allowed five shorthanded goals this season, tied with two other teams for second-most in the League. All five of those goals have come in Buffalo's barn … The Senators lead the league in third-period scoring with 43 goals, but they have also allowed 42 goals in the final stanza, second-most in the NHL.
: It's still only December, but the Sabres — seventh in the East with 32 points — have a stretch of critical games leading them into the short Christmas break. They will play two games against the Sens (including Tuesday's matchup), two games against another division rival in Toronto, and one game in Pittsburgh on Dec. 17.
"It's March all the time. You lose the points now, they're hard to get later on," Vanek told the team's website. "We definitely want to finish out good here before our little Christmas break. That's definitely our focus."
The Sens, who are last in the Northeast with 30 points, don't exactly have it easy themselves, despite returning home for a four-game homestand after Tuesday's match in Buffalo. Ottawa will take on Boston, the Penguins and the Panthers on the homestand, along with the other meeting against the Sabres.