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NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Ottawa



(Saturday, February 24th)

Final Score: Ottawa 6, Buffalo 5

Ottawa, ON (Sports Network) - Jason Spezza's second goal of the game was the difference, as the Ottawa Senators edged the Buffalo Sabres, 6-5, in a high- scoring but sedate affair between these two bitter division rivals at Scotiabank Place.

Dany Heatley picked up a goal and two assists for the Senators, who won for the sixth time in seven games. Daniel Alfredsson recorded a goal and an assist, Wade Redden and Mike Fisher posted a pair of helpers, and both Chris Kelly and Christoph Schubert lit the lamp.

Ray Emery looked shaky at times, but picked up the win by making 31 saves.

Henrik Tallinder recorded his first two-goal NHL game for the Sabres, who lost for just the second time in their last eight. Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist, Drew Stafford and Daniel Briere notched a pair of assists each, while Jason Pominville and Derek Roy also tallied.

Martin Biron stopped 12-of-16 shots before exiting the game. Ryan Miller was saddled with the loss despite giving up two goals on 21 shots in relief.

Having seen the Sabres erase a three-goal deficit, Ottawa took a 6-5 lead with a lucky bounce while on the man-advantage with 4:07 left in regulation, when Miller whiffed when trying to bat down a dump-in behind his net. The puck ticked off Heatley and caromed right to Spezza, who slammed the disc into the open cage.

"The puck came off a guy's stick and it came off the boards in the air," Miller said. "It passed me and Henrik (Tallinder) then almost passed Heatley. I don't know who caught it, but both guys tried to tie him up. It hit something and went right out front. It was a bad break."

Miller did not get to the bench for an extra attacker until 42 seconds remained, and the Sabres could not fire off a quality chance until just before the buzzer.

"Tonight we really took the game to them early," Spezza said. "We kind of let up a little bit and let them back in. To our fault we let them tie it up, but were able to squeak it out at the end."

Down by two with 20 minutes to play, the Sabres worked to get within 4-3 as Pominville managed to push the puck, trapped beneath Emery's blocker, over the goal line at the 38 second mark. The goal was made possible by Briere's fall through the crease which allowed the puck to squirt loose.

However, Alfredsson responded to restore Ottawa's two-goal lead at 2:34 by sliding the puck through Miller from the left side of the crease.

Still scrapping, the Sabres made it 5-4 at 7:11 when Briere tapped home a puck that Vanek managed to push through Emery on a stuffer try from the right side.

The comeback was complete when Tallinder's point shot with 8:25 to go sailed past a screened Emery, but the Sabres could not overcome Miller's gaffe and the Senators skated away with a win to split the home-and-home series.

Playing without Chris Drury, who is sidelined indefinitely after suffering concussion-like symptoms due to Chris Neil's hit on Thursday, Buffalo started the contest on an up note.

Tallinder put the Sabres up 1-0, finishing a give-and-go 2:27 into the contest. Stafford stripped a Senator in the offensive zone and dished to Tallinder, got it back in the slot, and whipped it back to the Swede who hit a wide-open net.

Spezza answered with 5:16 left in the period, rifling home a shot off Heatley's lead pass while Neil served a slashing penalty.

Vanek was awarded a penalty shot 2:09 into the second, but his bid to tie the game on the free shot went well wide of the cage.

With 6:12 played in second, after Heatley slipped a low wrister through Biron's five-hole from the left faceoff dot for a power-play goal, it was 2-1 Ottawa, and things heated up as Roy threw a punch at Sens' forward Mike Comrie after the goal.

Cooler heads prevailed, and it was 3-1 Ottawa at 7:13. Fisher led a 4-on-2 rush off a Buffalo turnover, dished to Alfredsson who faked a shot in the slot, then fed Schubert on the left side, and he lifted the puck over the fallen Sabres netminder.

Kelly upped the lead to 4-1 on a four-on-four situation as he collected Vanek's neutral-zone turnover, skated in, and sent a rising backhander under the crossbar. The goal, coming at 8:03, spelled the end of Biron's night in favor of Miller.

Buffalo received a gift courtesy of some spotty puckhandling by Emery. On the power play, the combative goaltender misplayed a clearing try right to Vanek, who immediately dished to Roy in front to make it a 4-2 contest with 4:27 left. The two-goal lead would stand for the Senators until a spirited third period.

"I thought we played one hell of a hockey game," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "Considering the atmosphere that was surrounding this game, I thought we showed up and played hard. I was so impressed with the way we played. To lose a game with two guys battling for ice in a crucial situation is tough. There is no shame in that locker room."

Game Notes

Ottawa won the season series, 5-2-1...136 penalty minutes were assessed in Thursday's contest, and 21 penalties resulting in 54 minutes were called on Saturday as NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell was in attendance...Senators forward Brian McGrattan dressed for the game, his first action in 10 contests, and tussled with Sabres forward Andrew Peters 3:44 into the second period...Ottawa scored twice in seven power-play chances, while Buffalo hit the net once in seven tries.

02/25 00:02:30 ET


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