The Ottawa Senators made it look easy as they blanked the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Goalie Craig Anderson has appeared to return to his familiar form after a stellar performance in the Senators crease. Meanwhile, All-Star defenceman Thomas Chabot and trade deadline acquisition Brian Gibbons both enjoyed a two-point night. Anthony Duclair, Gibbons, Rudolfs Balcers, and Magnus Paajarvi each scored a goal for the home team. Despite outshooting Ottawa 35-31, the visiting Sabres failed to muster any response on the score sheet.
With the win, Ottawa improves their record to 27-43-6 and 60 points. They remain last in the NHL but close in on the Los Angeles Kings, who sit just four points ahead. Meanwhile, the Sabres drop to 31-36-9 and 71 points after this loss. They are ranked 27th in the NHL.
The Senators opened the game’s scoring late in the first period.
Bobby Ryan made an impressive diving effort to hold play in the Sabres zone before feeding it to Chabot. The 22-year-old defenseman then coasted into the Sabres zone with great poise, spotting Oscar Lindberg in the slot with a pass. Lindberg fooled Sabres goalie Carter Hutton with a shot, opting to pass it to Duclair instead at the side of the net. The 23-year-old deked the sprawling goalie with some quick stick handling, before firing in a backhander for his 16th of the season.
Shortly after, the home team surprised the Sabres with their second goal of the game. With just 11 seconds left in the opening frame, Christian Jaros teed up a slap-pass from the blue line, which Gibbons redirected past Hutton. Ottawa ended the first period with a lead of 2-0.
After a scoreless second period, Balcers sounded the goal horn with his fifth of the season 5:54 into the third. This tally lifted Ottawa to a 3-0 lead. The goal was scored on the Senators power play, which went one for four in this game.
Only a minute and a half later, the Senators connected again. This time it was on a pretty passing play, which finished with Paajarvi earning his team’s fourth of the night. As Gibbons accelerated into the Sabres zone, he spun around and passed it to Christian Wolanin. Without missing a stride, the offensive defensemen instinctively swung around again to pass it back to wide open Paajarvi. The Swedish native saw nothing but net after Hutton was pulled far out of position on the brilliant play.
Andy Tuned In
Number 41 for the Senators has earned his 42nd career shutout. It was also just Anderson’s second shut-out of the 2018-19 campaign. The Senators goalie now has back-to-back wins after he was dogged by a difficult winless drought that stretched a total of 15 games. Before his previous victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, Anderson’s last win was on Dec. 17, 2018, when he defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 in overtime.
It seems the American has put his recent troubles behind him. Anderson was perfect in this match, stopping all 35 shots he faced. Not only did he earn the game’s first star, but his effort also drew the praise of his head coach, Marc Crawford.
“He was good right from the outset. The stop he made on Eichel, the one timer on Eichel at the start of the game, that was a big save… Craig was huge in allowing us to find our game tonight.”
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Chabot also applauded his goalie’s strong performance backstopping the team in this win.
“He’s been facing so many shots every night. We never give it easy for him and he always stands there and tries to do his best”, said the young defender. “Last game he won his first game in a while and tonight he gets a shut-out, it’s what he deserves. He’s played so well all year. He’s been so huge for us, he totally deserves that.”
On the season, Anderson has 16 wins, along with a 3.46 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.
- The Senators have confirmed a report that they are searching for their next president of hockey operations. The roll was previously held by the late Bryan Murray, who passed away in 2017. Potential candidates vary widely, as reported by Murray Pam of the Sporting News.
- The Senators recently completed their annual Western Canadian road trip with stops in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, respectively. Ottawa went 1-2-0 on their journey through the wild west. Their only win came against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.
- Tuesday’s victory was significant for the Senators. It marked the 500th home win in franchise history. Ottawa has a record of 500-386-60-84 through 1,030 home games.
Official 3 Stars of the Game
- Craig Anderson, Ottawa
- Brian Gibbons, Ottawa
- Thomas Chabot, Ottawa
The Senators continue their three-game homestand this week. Next, they welcome ex-Senator Mike Hoffman and the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Then, the Toronto Maple Leafs fly-in this Saturday. The Battle of Ontario will be alive and fiery, as the Maple Leafs will try to redeem themselves after an embarrassing 6-2 loss to their provincial rivals the last time these two clubs met.
The Panthers are 33-32-12 this year with 78 points. After their recent 6-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, Florida was officially eliminated from the 2019 playoff race. Ottawa is 1-2-0 against the Sunshine State cats this season.
Cover Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Billy Morrison lives in Ottawa and covers the Ottawa Senators for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.