Sabres-Senators Preview

The Ottawa Senators have gone to shootouts in three straight

games – the last two on back-to-back nights – and only have four

points to show for it.

They may want to avoid another tiebreaker against the Buffalo

Sabres as the teams close out a home-and-home set at Ottawa on

Thursday night.

The Senators (12-14-6) fell 2-1 to the Sabres on Tuesday, losing

in a 10-round shootout after failing to capitalize on a disallowed

Buffalo goal in the second period.

Milan Michalek broke a nine-game goal drought in the first for

Ottawa, but rookie Zemgus Girgensons responded in the second – when

Buffalo held an 18-9 shots advantage.

Ottawa, playing its third game in four nights, couldn’t score

again despite outshooting the Sabres 16-7 in the third period and

overtime. Girgensons went on to score the winner in the

shootout.

“We created things and we played fast and we played more like we

want to play and we didn’t put them in the net,” Senators coach

Paul MacLean said. “But any time you come on the road and get a

point, it’s usually a pretty good trip so it could be a big point

at the end of the year.”

At 1-0-2 in its last three, MacLean’s team has at least been

consistently earning points after going 3-7-0 in the previous

10.

Despite its NHL-worst record of 7-22-2, Buffalo is 4-0 in

shootouts – with Ryan Miller in net for all of those wins. Miller

made 35 saves to help the Sabres snap a three-game skid while

taking sole possession of first place with his 46th career shootout

victory. He had been tied with the New York Rangers’ Henrik

Lundqvist.

“He’s always battling and he made some huge saves again,”

defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. “He’s been great every game, so

it’s definitely a broken record.”

Miller has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.31 goals-against average in his

last three starts against Ottawa.

The 19-year-old Girgensons scored for the second straight game,

giving him points in his last three. The Sabres hope the 14th

overall pick in the 2012 draft can continue to help provide a

boost, as they’re by far the lowest-scoring team in the NHL with 53

goals.

“He’s getting rewarded for his work,” coach Ted Nolan said.

“He’s always worked and good things happen when you do that. It’s a

good reward for a kid who’s worked so hard.”

Robin Lehner turned in a strong game with 35 saves for Ottawa,

which would like to take advantage of a lesser opponent Thursday

before matchups with Western Conference powers Los Angeles and St.

Louis close out its three-game homestand.

While Lehner could be back in net for this game, Craig Anderson

has posted shutouts in his last two matchups with the Sabres, the

most recent a 1-0 road victory Oct. 4 in which he stopped 35 shots.

Anderson, though, struggled again his last time out, allowing four

goals on 29 shots in a 5-4 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

He has a 3.40 GAA compared to 2.36 for Lehner.

The Senators have gone 7-1-2 in the past 10 games in this series

and 3-0-4 in the last seven at home.

Ottawa will be without defenseman Jared Cowen, who was suspended

two games Wednesday for a hit to Girgensons’ head.