Senators face Sabres fresh off exhilarating win
Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:56 AM
SENATORS (18-15-5) at SABRES (17-17-3)
TV: CBC, MSG-B
Ottawa 5-3-2; Buffalo 3-6-1
Friday's clash at First Niagara Center marks the fifth of six meetings between these Northeast Division foes. The Sabres and Senators have split their first four head-to-head games this season, with two of them being decided after regulation. In their most recent meeting on Dec. 20, Erik Condra notched a pair of goals to lift Ottawa to a convincing 4-1 win over Buffalo at Scotiabank Place.
Separated by only four points in the Eastern Conference standings, these division rivals hope to gain some ground on each other before the calendar year comes to a close. Buffalo returns home after dropping its second straight game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Friday. The Senators, meanwhile, improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday.
While the first period of Ottawa's win over Calgary was one of its most forgettable ones of the season, the Senators stayed the course despite a 3-0 deficit and mounted a rally on one of the more memorable nights in franchise history. After Nick Foligno and Zack Smith scored in the second frame to swing the momentum in Ottawa's favor, Erik Karlsson notched the tying goal in the third period to ultimately help the Senators earn a point.
But that wasn't good enough for Daniel Alfredsson, as the Sens' captain notched his 400th career goal in overtime to will his club to a resounding come-from-behind victory in front of their home crowd.
"I think when we stepped out on the ice as a different team in the second, and especially in the third," Karlsson said. "We battled back, and in overtime we went for the win and we weren't scared of losing the game."
Buffalo dropped its fifth straight road game on Friday in Washington and continues to be decimated by injuries and inconsistent play on both ends of the ice. While Ryan Miller
allowed three goals on only 21 shots against the Capitals to lose for the fourth time in his last five outings, the Sabres' offense has been outscored 23-12 in its last six games. That unit staggered again Friday, as Jochen Hecht
mustered the lone goal in another excruciating road defeat for Lindy Ruff's squad.
"It's not about bad luck after a while," Derek Roy
told the Buffalo News after the game. "You can have bad luck for one or two games, but after that it's about finishing your chances."
Alfredsson has compiled 4 goals and 7 assists in his last seven games. … Thomas Vanek
, who assisted on Hecht's goal on Friday, has reeled off 4 goals and 6 assists during his current seven-game points streak.
Injury Report: Christian Ehrhoff
(undisclosed) left Friday's game after a first-period scrap with Washington's Troy Brouwer and could miss weeks, according to Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Andrej Sekera
(upper body), Colin Stuart
(knee), Tyler Ennis
(ankle), Ville Leino
(lower body), Corey Tropp
(head) and Nathan Gerbe
(concussion) have all missed time due to injury for the Sabres this month. … Ottawa is without forwards Peter Regin (shoulder) and Jesse Winchester (concussion).
Alfredsson is sixth among active players in career goals -- behind only Jaromir Jagr (658), Teemu Selanne (648), Jarome Iginla (498), Jason Arnott (408) and Marian Hossa (405).
"I wasn't really thinking whether I score or not, it's going to be No. 400. I was just trying to find a lane, and if I did, I was going to shoot. I saw it go in, and I saw Erik [Karlsson] jumping towards me and that's when I realized it. Obviously having family and friends here makes it that much more special." -- Alfredsson on his milestone goal scored in overtime on Friday against Calgary