The Ottawa Senators were lucky to hang on against a charging Buffalo Sabres team on Thursday night, to win 4-2.
With the victory, Ottawa snaps a four-game losing streak. They also even their record at .500, improving to 5-5-2 with 12 points on the year. Merely two points separate the Senators and the Sabres, who are lined up to play each other again on Saturday. This will be the second game of a home-and-home series.
With this regulation loss, the Sabres drop to 6-5-2, and stall at 14 points.
The Senators did not seem to carry any rust into this game from their subpar 0-2-1 three-game road trip through southwest America earlier this week. They opened this game with a strong start, generating a myriad of scoring opportunities and applying lengthy pressure in the offensive zone. This aroused a loud cheer of support from Senator fans towards the end of the period. After twenty minutes, the two teams tied in shots on goal with 12 apiece but Ottawa held a 1-0 lead, thanks to a Ryan Dzingel power play goal.
The Senators took control early in the second period with a goal exactly one-minute in. Dylan DeMelo ripped a hard shot off the backboards, which bounced back towards the net, off the back of Carter Hutton, and into the net.
The Senators also scored the game-winning goal in the second period on the power play, which was triggered when Kyle Okposo took a senseless delay of game penalty. The goal was generated from a beautiful passing play on a sharp looking power play unit, which saw Thomas Chabot drive a play into the Buffalo zone before he passed to Mark Stone, who fed it perfectly to a wide-open Colin White. White had no trouble hammering the puck past the unsuspecting Buffalo goalie.
“I thought our first two periods were terrific. Solid. We wanted to get our work ethic back the way it normally is, and our speed, and that’s exactly what we did”, said Senators head coach Guy Boucher following the game.
Buffalo’s Late Charge
Despite being down 3-0, Buffalo was determined to make it a hockey game. The Sabres came roaring out of the gates in the third with a quick goal on a deflection by Jason Pominville only 0:59 seconds in. This was followed by a power play tally from the ever dangerous Jeff Skinner, who has 13 points (7G, 6A) in 13 games. Suddenly, within four minutes, the Sabres had narrowed the margins to a one goal difference.
Buffalo’s late charge continued. After tying Ottawa with 12 shots apiece in the first, and outshooting Ottawa by one in the second, the Sabres unloaded a shooting spree in the final period. In total, they unleashed 23 shots this period against Senators goalie Craig Anderson, compared to Ottawa’s 8 directed at Hutton.
“In the third period, I kind of had in the back of my mind that if they did score early, we’d be fragile. That’s exactly what it was”, admitted Boucher with regard to the Senators pattern of weakness in the third period. “We know that it’s tough for us to sustain what we’re doing for two periods. For three periods, there’s a confidence issue there; there’s an experience issue there; and so, that’s what we’re encountering. But in the end, I think the guys pushed hard, and Andy was outstanding in the right moments”.
Luckily for Ottawa, Anderson’s play was heroic. He finished the game with 46 saves on 48 shots, 2.01 Goals Against Average, and a .958 save percentage. This superb performance earned him first star of the game.
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- Ahead of the game, the Senators made a series of roster moves with their AHL affiliate, the Belleville Senators. Amongst them, they recalled Nick Paul, Erik Burgdoerfer, and Mike McKenna, and re-assigned Jack Rodewald and Christian Wolanin to their AHL team.
- Backup goaltender Mike Condon cleared waivers at noon on Thursday and was also assigned to Belleville.
- Between Anderson (37) and McKenna (35), Ottawa has the NHL’s oldest goalie pairing with an average age of 36. This is ironic at a time when there’s a major youth movement underway in the nation’s capital.
- This was Mark Borowiecki’s second game missed due to his three-game suspension.
- Brought back by popular demand, the racing Prime Ministers have returned as intermission entertainment at Canadian Tire Centre. This race features four comically large, costumed, historical Canadian Prime Minister’s. They skate two laps around the rink, slamming into each other and crashing into the boards along the way. The Right Honourable Sir Robert Borden took home the first win of the year. His opponents are the Right Honourable Sir John A. MacDonald, the Right Honourable Sir Wilfred Laurier, and the Right Honourable William Lyon MacKenzie King, in this uniquely Ottawa event.
- After the game, Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion broke the news on TSN 1200 that the Senators had assigned 19 year-old rookie Alex Formenton to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Official 3 Stars of the Game
- Craig Anderson, Ottawa (2.01 GAA, .958 SV%)
- Thomas Chabot, Ottawa (2A, 5 Shots)
- Jason Pominville, Buffalo (1G, 5 Shots)
The Senators travel to New York state for the second game of this home-and-home series against the Buffalo Sabres. These Atlantic Division rivals will face-off at 2pm EST on Saturday at KeyBank Center.
|1||Ottawa [PPG]||1-0||6:55||Ryan Dzingel (5)||Mikkel Boedker (5), Chris Wideman (3)|
|2||Ottawa||2-0||1:00||Dylan DeMelo (2)||Thomas Chabot (11), Matt Duchene (8)|
|2||Ottawa [PPG]||3-0||14:47||Colin White (3)||Mark Stone (5), Thomas Chabot (12)|
|3||Buffalo||3-1||0:59||Jason Pominville (6)||Jack Eichel (9), Marco Scandella (2)|
|3||Buffalo [PPG]||3-2||3:55||Jeff Skinner (7)||Rasmus Ristolainen (4), Jack Eichel (10)|
|3||Ottawa||4-2||19:40||Bobby Ryan (3)||Mark Stone (6), Dylan DeMelo (5)|
Cover Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.