It was a Saturday afternoon to remember for Jason Pominville and the Buffalo Sabres, who exacted revenge on the Ottawa Senators in the second game of a home-and-home series by a whopping score of 9-2.
With the win, the Sabres improve to 16 points on the season and a record of 7-5-2, while the Senators remain at 12 points and a record of 5-6-2.
Buffalo was rearing and ready to go as soon as the puck hit the ice. By the end of the first period, they were in full charge with a 3-0 lead. Goals came from Kyle Okposo, Jeff Skinner, and Pominville. At just 14:25 into the game, the Senators replaced starting goaltender Craig Anderson with their back-up, Mike McKenna, who was recently recalled from Belleville (AHL).
In the second period, fans at KeyBank Center were entertained with five goals in only 2:42 of play. The Sabres would pot another two goals before Ottawa managed to get on the scoreboard, courtesy of Max McCormick with his first of the season. However, Pominville responded promptly for Buffalo just 31 seconds later.
The Senators were never close in this game. Buffalo played a strong game, outshooting Ottawa 41-29 on the shot count, and ultimately 9-2 on the scoreboard.
“Their speed of execution, their intensity, their willingness to pay the price…. Their battle level is much higher than ours, and that’s not like us… we know their players are paying the price, we were not at their level today”, said Senators head coach Guy Boucher following the game.
Once again, the opposing team’s top line was Ottawa’s kryptonite. Against Boston, it was David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand who combined for 19 points in two games against Ottawa. Against Colorado, it was Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog who combined for 10 points in sixty minutes against the Sens. Now, it was Buffalo’s Pominville, Skinner, and Jack Eichel, who wreaked havoc on the Senators young defense by combining for nine points in this game.
Ahead of the game, Buffalo honored Pominville for playing his 1,001st NHL game. He received a saber, an NHL Tiffany crystal, and a painting display. That was not all Pominville received this game. He also scored two goals- including the game-winner- and an assist, for three points. This impressive effort earned him the game’s first star.
Boucher credited this ceremony for tipping the scales, and energizing the Sabres before puck drop: “Tonight, they came out in the strongest we’ve seen a team this year. Most probably because the players wanted to have a great night for Pominville, who deserves all the credit for having played that many games and the way he’s done it….The fact that their emotional level was so high when they started of the game, we weren’t ready for that”.
The 35-year-old is off to an impressive and surprising start to the season. Fourteen games in, he finds himself as a point-per-game player with 14 points (8G, 6A). With 68 games remaining, the native of Repentigny, Quebec, is already only 20 points shy of his point total from last year.
Busy Schedule Ahead
The Senators have no time to sit and dwell on this blowout. They need to refocus quickly and set their sights on their next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. The Lightning are currently third in the NHL and lead the Atlantic Division with 17 points and an 8-3-1 record.
“We need to prepare for the next day”, Boucher said following the game, well aware of the challenge waiting for them tomorrow. “We knew this game was gone. But we got to have the right habits, we got to get our way of playing so that tomorrow we don’t start the game the way we were playing… It was all about finishing the right way, and having a better third, and having to get ready for tomorrow”.
Ottawa’s schedule is extremely busy this month. November consists of 15 games in 30 days, including eight home games and 7 away. The game against Tampa will be their third in four days. It will also be the first game this week, which sees the Senators play a total of five games in the next eight days.
This trying segment of the schedule will be a true test for the young Senators club. It will also largely determine how their season may play out. There are 30 points up for grabs this month.
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- Immediately after McKenna replaced Anderson, he made a huge glove save on Conor Sheary in close. McKenna surprised everyone with the save, including the goal horn controller, who sounded the horn briefly after mistaking it for a Buffalo goal.
- The Sabres 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin left the game in the second period after blocking a shot. He did not return and is considered day-to-day until he is evaluated.
- Cody Ceci scored his first goal of the season, and also the last goal of the game. On it, Thomas Chabot recorded his 13th assist. Chabot has 16 points in 13 games and is second amongst NHL defensemen in scoring.
- This was Mark Borowiecki‘s final game sitting out due to a three-game suspension. He is eligible to return tomorrow against Tampa.
Official 3 Stars of the Game
- Jason Pominville, Buffalo (2G, 1A)
- Jeff Skinner, Buffalo (2G, 1A)
- Jack Eichel, Buffalo (3A)
Ottawa returns home to verse the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday.
|1||Buffalo||1-0||5:04||Kyle Okposo (4)||Casey Nelson (2), Vladimir Sobotka (1)|
|1||Buffalo||2-0||6:28||Jeff Skinner (8)||Jack Eichel (1), Jason Pominville (6)|
|1||Buffalo||3-0||14:25||Jason Pominville (7)||Jeff Skinner (7), Jack Eichel (12)|
|2||Buffalo||4-0||5:06||Jeff Skinner (9)||Sam Reinhart (6), Casey Mittelstadt (3)|
|2||Buffalo||5-0||5:17||Zemgus Girgensons (1)||Patrik Berglund (2), Johan Larsson (2)|
|2||Ottawa||5-1||6:37||Max McCormick (1)||Mikkel Boedker (6)|
|2||Buffalo||6-1||7:06||Jason Pominville (8)||Jack Eichel (13)|
|2||Buffalo||7-1||7:48||Conor Sheary (4)||Sam Reinhart (7)|
|3||Buffalo||8-1||5:41||Patrik Berglund (2)||Rasmus Ristolainen (5), Zemgus Girgensons (4)|
|3||Buffalo||9-1||13:13||Casey Mittelstadt (2)||Conor Sheary (3), Marco Scandella (3)|
|3||Ottawa||9-2||14:14||Cody Ceci (1)||Thomas Chabot (13), Mark Stone (7)|
Cover Photo Credit: Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.