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NHL Game Summary - Ottawa at Buffalo

(Thursday, February 22nd)

Final Score: Buffalo 6, Ottawa 5 (SO)

Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Drew Stafford's goal in the fourth round of the shootout sent the Buffalo Sabres to a marathon 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators that included a big brawl in the second period in the opener of a home-and-home series at HSBC Arena.

Thomas Vanek scored twice for the Sabres, winners in six of their last seven. Chris Drury, Clarke MacArthur and Dmitri Kalinin also scored, while Stafford picked up a pair of assists.

Buffalo-area native Patrick Kaleta recorded an assist in his first NHL contest, and Martin Biron stopped 16-of-18 shots before being ejected. Ryan Miller got credit for the win by making 22 saves in regulation and stopping all four Senator shots in the shootout.

Dany Heatley registered two goals and an assist for the Senators, who saw their five-game win streak come to an end. Jason Spezza had a goal and two helpers, Wade Redden notched two assists, and both Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher each chipped in with a goal and an assist.

Ray Emery, in his first start since serving a three-game suspension, made 12 saves before being ejected from the contest. Martin Gerber stopped 15 shots in a relief effort loss.

Stafford used a rising backhander to beat Gerber for Buffalo's first goal in four chances. Miller then used a quick glove-hand to stop Fisher's final chance for Ottawa, and the home team skated off with a hard-fought victory.

Things got testy with 5:07 played in the second period after Ottawa forward Chris Neil steamrolled Drury with a clean, but late hit which sent the captain to the dressing room with a cut above his left eye.

"My take on it is it was a late hit and a dirty hit," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I don't agree with the hit. It was late, he was vulnerable at the time. It was a shot to his head. I don't condone it."

Ruff said Drury's injury isn't that serious, but he could miss some time.

"He's OK, I think he wanted to come back and play but he took a pretty good shot," Ruff added. "

Ottawa coach Bryan Murray had a different take on Neil's hit as did Neil himself.

"I've heard Lindy cry on TV so many times," Murray said. "I watched the game and see Chris Neil come across with a good body check. It looked to me like Drury's helmet was undone or wasn't tight and he hit his head on the ice when he went down. Then they send out five guys, sucker punch our skill guys and guys who have a reputation on our team of never fighting. This has happened before and there's been suspensions so I assume the league will address it."

"If it's a cheap shot you can understand it, but when you just finish your check on a clean hit, there's not much more you can say," Neil said. "It was a clean hit. I got my video guys to review it after as soon as I came in. I don't like to see guys get hurt out there, but you're coming through the middle with your head down, you've got to be aware of who is on the ice."

Neil and Stafford squared off seconds later, but more trouble followed.

On the ensuing faceoff, Sabres defenseman Adam Mair tried to bait Spezza into a fight, then Andrew Peters went after Heatley, and all 12 skaters on the ice combined for a full-scale brawl, complete with Emery going after Biron, then trading punches with Peters.

"You can't respond any other way," Ruff said. "I was proud of those guys. There was a little bit of emotion. I don't condone the tail end of it with Andrew, but you get caught up in the emotion. The players did the right thing."

Heated words were also exchanged between Ruff and Murray, who each leaned over their respective benches to point fingers and trade verbal barbs.

A total of 110 penalty minutes resulted from the two quick tussles, with Buffalo receiving 63 of them.

Could their be more hostilities when teams face each other in Ottawa on Saturday?

"It's an important game for us so that's not say we're not going to play with discipline and try to win the game, but there's a little bit of a revenge factor there," Emery said. "You can't just lay down when guys are sending tough guys against your skill players."

Leading by one heading into the final period, Kalinin upped the Sabres' advantage to 5-3 by scoring off his own rebound and over a sprawling Gerber at the 3:21 mark of the third in a four-on-four situation.

When Miller bobbled Redden's snapshot that tipped off Spezza and slipped between his arm and body, the Senators got within 5-4 with 6:22 played. Fisher followed up by scoring off Alfredsson's right-circle feed with 11:02 to go for a 5-5 deadlock.

After a scoreless remainder of the period, the Sabres had to kill off a penalty to Daniel Briere late in the extra session just to reach the shootout round. Miller stopped Heatley twice on spectacular saves to preserve the tie.

This contest between two bitter Northeast Division rivals started off on a good note for the visitors.

Alfredsson cashed in with 8:59 to go in the first, on Ottawa's second power- play chance, as he stashed home Redden's rebound from the left side of the crease. Heatley made it 2-0 at 12:53, as his wrister hit the net top-shelf from the right wing side.

Buffalo cut the deficit to 2-1 with 2:17 to play in the first, as several hacks at the puck laying in the crease bounced off Emery's pad out to the right side for Drury, who gathered and fired just under the crossbar for his 33rd goal of the season.

The game was tied, 2-2, 3:09 into the second, when Jason Pominville's one- timer from the low slot ticked off Vanek and into the net just inside the far post for a power-play goal. Vanek followed 37 seconds later at even strength, shucking two Senator checkers and scoring on the backhand for a 3-2 Buffalo lead.

After order was restored following the fights, both goaltenders were removed from the game, and the Senators were awarded a two-man advantage. Heatley drew the Sens even on the 5-on-4 portion of the power play, with a bullet from the right circle that Miller was powerless to stop at 8:09.

However, Buffalo took a 4-3 lead with 1:37 left in the second period, as MacArthur notched his first NHL goal. Gerber lost sight of a loose puck in front, and the young forward managed to sweep it into the open side of the cage while being checked by a Senators defender.

Game Notes

Ottawa has won nine of the last 15 meetings, and leads the season series, 4-3-0...Drury suffered a head injury and did not return to the game...Sabres forward Michael Ryan picked up his first NHL assist on Drury's first-period goal...110 penalty minutes were assessed in a six-second span from the Neil- Stafford fight through the goaltender ejections...The Sabres improve to 30-4-2 when leading after two periods...Ottawa went 3-of-8 on the power play, while Buffalo finished 1-of-4.

02/23 02:27:40 ET

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