NHL Game Summary - Ottawa at Buffalo
(Friday, March 24th)
Final Score: Ottawa 3, Buffalo 1
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Antoine Vermette scored the decisive goal in the second period, as the Ottawa Senators became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth with a 3-1 win over Northeast Division rival Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.
Daniel Alfredsson and Patrick Eaves also tallied goals for the streaking Sens, who have won four in a row and seven of their last eight overall. Ray Emery made 28 saves in the victory.
Daniel Briere scored the lone goal for the struggling Sabres, who lost for the fourth straight game overall. Ryan Miller allowed three goals on 24 shots in the loss.
The Sens scored twice in the opening period to take a 2-0 lead into the middle session.
Alfredsson opened the scoring with his 39th goal of the campaign at the 4:32 mark of the first. Alfredsson corralled a loose puck in the slot and sent a backhander through Miller's five hole for a 1-0 lead.
A little over two minutes later Vermette took a pass from Brian McGrattan along the left boards and skated right to the front of the net, slipping the puck past a diving Miller for the goal and 2-0 edge for Ottawa.
"When you get in the hole early, it's tough to get out," Miller said. "That's on my shoulders. Find a way to make some saves to give the boys an opportunity to be in the game all night, not just battle back."
Midway through the second stanza, the Sabres got on the board as Briere netted his 21st goal of the season. J.P. Dumont's slap shot from the point was stopped by Emery, but the puck trickled to the left side of the net where Briere easily fired it home.
After Buffalo had a goal disallowed early in the final frame, the Sens scored at the 4:56 mark for a two-goal cushion. From behind the net Jason Spezza dished the puck out to the slot, where Eaves immediately fired a wrister that beat Miller high on his stick side.
"We had our backs to the wall in the third period and Patrick Eaves snapped a pretty nice one off," said Senators head coach Brian Murray.
The Sabres had a difficult time regrouping after Eaves' goal but did manage nine shots on goal in the third period, although most of the shots were not quality scoring chances.
Buffalo pulled Miller with over a minute left and they still could not put together any solid scoring opportunities.
The Senators lead the Northeast as well as the Eastern Conference with 102 points and are now tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the most points in the NHL. Buffalo now trails Ottawa by nine points the Northeast Division...Ottawa is 5-1 against the Sabres this season...Vermette has tallied four goals in his last five games overall...Briere has eight points over his last six games...Both teams went scoreless in five power-play opportunities.
03/25 01:34:04 ET