Senators-Sabres Preview

The Buffalo Sabres know they need to play better defensively

even though they’ve produced good results lately.

The Ottawa Senators are heading in the opposite direction

without captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Buffalo goes for a season-high fourth straight victory and sixth

in a row in this Northeast Division matchup Friday night when the

visiting Senators try to end a season-worst four-game skid.

Although the Sabres (9-5-0) pushed their winning streak to three

with Tuesday’s 6-5 overtime victory over Winnipeg, coach Lindy Ruff

has major concerns about the play of his blueliners.

Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera each were a season-worst minus-3

against the Jets.

“They didn’t play well,” Ruff said following Wednesday’s

practice. “They made some bad decisions, and it’s been a little bit

of our problem where we haven’t had six guys play well back there.

… We made some ill-advised reads, we made a couple of tough plays

into traffic and we got to clean those plays up.”

While veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr said the important thing

was that the Sabres found a way to win, there’s no question the

club needs better play from 2010 Vezina Trophy winner Ryan


Back in net Tuesday after a two-game benching behind backup

Jhonas Enroth, Miller survived a three-goal first period and

finished with 26 saves to avoid losing five consecutive games in

regulation for the first time.

“It’s not the easiest situation right now for me,” Miller said.

“… I want to help. And I want to get victories.”

It’s uncertain if Ruff will go with Miller or Enroth, who

improved to 4-0-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average after making 25

saves in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory in Ottawa.

The Sabres have won seven of eight in this series since dropping

nine in a row to the Senators.

Ottawa (7-8-1), which has won its last two trips to Buffalo,

opens a six-game trip with the first of three visits there this


It’s uncertain if Alfredsson will be available after missing the

last five games with a concussion. The Senators are 1-3-1 without

him – and winless since a 6-0-0 run – following Wednesday’s 3-2

loss to the New York Rangers.

“It’s just day by day and talking to the coaches and seeing what

they think,” Alfredsson said after skating with the team prior to

Wednesday’s defeat. “This is a little different than any other

injury I’ve had, so I want to make sure I feel good. … I’ll take

it one day at a time and go from there.”

Ottawa, which last lost five straight during an 0-9-2 skid Jan.

14-Feb. 9, has killed 11 of 12 penalties in the last four games but

has gone 0 for 11 on the power play.

Craig Anderson has allowed 12 goals while starting each of these

contests. He stopped 31 shots Saturday but was beaten on three of

Buffalo’s six shootout attempts, including the winner by Derek


Roy had two of the Sabres’ season-best four power-play goals

Tuesday and assisted on another.

Jason Spezza leads the Senators with 16 points but has only one

over his last five games. He did not make the scoresheet Saturday,

though the center has 13 goals and 13 assists during a 12-game

point streak in Buffalo.

He scored twice with two assists the last time the Senators were

in western New York, a 6-4 loss March 13.