NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, March 26th
(All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (39-30-5) at Buffalo Sabres (40-22-10), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The streaking Buffalo Sabres will try to solidify their
division title chances and clinch a playoff berth tonight when they host the
Ottawa Senators in an important Northeast clash at HSBC Arena.
The Sabres have won four in a row to extend their lead atop the division to
seven points over Ottawa. Buffalo also has the benefit of owning two games in
hand over the Senators and can officially punch its ticket to the postseason
with a victory in tonight's contest.
However, the Senators have dominated Buffalo recently, winning eight straight
in the series and all four matchups this year. Ottawa has also taken nine of
10 overall from the Sabres and has won three straight and seven of eight in
Ottawa is currently fifth in the Eastern Conference standings and is one point
ahead of sixth-seeded Montreal.
Buffalo is 7-2-1 in its last 10 outings and is coming off Wednesday's close
victory over visiting Montreal. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek each scored
in the shootout for Buffalo in the 3-2 victory over the Habs. The Sabres
trailed 2-0 after two periods but scored twice in the final two minutes of
regulation to force overtime.
Pominville got the shootout going with a snap shot that went through the legs
of Carey Price. Andrei Kostitsyn failed to score on a wrist shot for the
Canadiens. After a scoreless second round, Vanek sealed Buffalo's come-from-
behind win with a snap shot off the inside of the left post.
"It was an ugly game but we'll take the two points," Vanek said. "I think we
all know that we can be better, and we will be better."
Paul Gaustad and Tim Connolly scored the goals late in regulation for the
Sabres, while Ryan Miller made 26 saves in the win.
Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta and defenseman Henrik Tallinder suffered
injuries in Wednesday's win. Kaleta is questionable for tonight with a neck
ailment, while Tallinder is expected to sit out with a head injury.
Buffalo is 22-9-6 as the host this year and is playing the middle test of a
three-game homestand tonight.
Meanwhile, the Senators will aim for a third straight win tonight as they try
to stay on the right track. Prior to beating Montreal and Philadelphia in its
last two games, Ottawa had lost five straight and eight out of nine.
The Sens blanked the Flyers on Tuesday as Brian Elliott stopped all 26 shots
he faced to post his second consecutive shutout in the 2-0 win at Scotiabank
Elliott, who also blanked the Canadiens in Montreal on Monday, recorded his
fifth shutout of the season and sixth in his career. He is expected to get the
start again tonight.
"He's played unbelievable the last two games and we've been able to score the
first goals, too, in the last two games, which definitely helps," Sens captain
Daniel Alfredsson said of Elliott. "We're skating much better. We're being
more aggressive, not as passive as we were. Hopefully we can continue that."
Chris Kelly and Alfredsson scored for the Senators, who will aim for their
first three-game winning streak since they set a club record with 11
consecutive victories from Jan. 14-Feb. 6.
Forward Alex Kovalev suffered a lower-body injury in the win over the Flyers
and did not make the trip to Buffalo.
Ottawa ended a four-game road losing streak with Monday's win in Montreal but
still has a 15-20-1 record as the guest this year.
03/26 10:43:27 ET