Preview: Senators at Sabres
There may not be a team in the NHL more in need of a victory than Buffalo after a heartbreaking 5-4 overtime loss Thursday to Carolina pushed the Sabres losing streak to six games. Buffalo will look for its first win in over three weeks on Saturday when it hosts an Ottawa Senators squad on the second night of a back-to-back after securing a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia on Friday.
The Sabres had the league’s top power play over the first 10 games of the season but haven’t scored with the man advantage in twelve opportunities spanning five games. “We’re looking for the perfect goal,” Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger told reporters. "We’re disappointed in our specialty teams today. We’ve spent the last few days working on that and speaking a lot about it. The PK and power play need to definitely pick up steam here again quickly." Goaltender Anders Nilsson made 26 saves Friday night and was crucial in killing off a late four-minute power play as the Senators improved to 5-2-0 over their past seven games even though they’ve only outscored their opponents 22-20 during that stretch. "I think everyone knows what we as a team need to do to win hockey games,” Nilsson told reporters after Friday’s victory. “We can’t out-skill the opponent. We have to beat every opponent, every night in worth ethic."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TVA2, Sportsnet One (Ottawa), MSG Buffalo
ABOUT THE SENATORS (8-10-1): Tyler Ennis tied Friday’s contest at 1-1 with a rare power-play goal for Ottawa, which ranks last in the league with a 7.7 percent success rate with the man advantage. Defenseman Mark Borowiecki assisted on Filip Chlapik’s game-winner Friday and is now up to eight points in 19 games this season - three away from tying his career-high of 11 set in both the 2014-15 and 2017-18 seasons. Ottawa’s propensity to play shorthanded nearly cost them again on Friday as they now rank fourth in the league with 11.1 penalty minutes per game and third with 89 total penalties served.
ABOUT THE SABRES (9-6-3): After being outscored 20-10 in five November games, Buffalo has fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference after opening the month in second. “It’s a tough league to win in,” forward Jeff Skinner told reporters. “We just haven’t found a way to make a play at the right time. We’re sort of in a stretch here where it’s not going our way, and we’re going to have to fight our way out of it.” Entering Thursday’s contest, nine of the team’s last 13 goals had been scored by Skinner, Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart but after Skinner opened the scoring against the Hurricanes, three different players found the back of the net.
1. Buffalo called up 21-year-old Rasmus Asplund Friday from AHL Rochester and he will make his NHL debut if F Johan Larsson is unable to go due to an upper-body injury suffered Thursday.
2. Ottawa and Buffalo split four games last season with the home team winning each outing. The Sabres owned a 14-4 advantage on their home ice while the Senators won their two games by a combined score of 8-2.
3. Ennis has recorded three of Ottawa’s five power-play goals this season.
PREDICTION: Sabres 4, Senators 2