OTTAWA (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres have given the Ottawa Senators trouble all
season long. For five minutes Saturday night, it looked as if they would do it
After Adam Mair gave the Sabres the lead at 4:15 of the first period, the
Senators turned up the pressure and scored seven unanswered goals in a 7-1
victory. Bryan Smolinski had a goal and two assists to help Ottawa move into a
tie for the points lead in the NHL.
Wade Redden, Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara and Peter Bondra
each added a goal and an assist as the Senators caught the Philadelphia Flyers,
who also have an NHL-best 84 points.
``It's good, we'd love to score seven goals every night,'' Smolinski said
after the Senators beat the Sabres for the first time in five attempts this
season. ``We caught them after they had to play last night.''
Chris Neil also scored, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza each added a pair of
assists, and Patrick Lalime made 14 saves for the Senators, who have earned
points in 20 straight home games.
``Buffalo's played us tough,'' Fisher said. ``We didn't hold back.''
Senators coach Jacques Martin needs one victory to become the 14th to reach
400 wins. He'll try for the milestone when the teams meet again in Buffalo on
Adam Mair scored for Buffalo, which lost for its fourth straight. The Sabres
trail the eighth-place New York Islanders by eight points in the race for the
final playoff spot in the East.
Mika Noronen stopped 26 shots, but the Sabres fell to 2-1-2 against the
Senators this season one night after losing at home to the Islanders.
``We started well, we got the first goal and, after that, they kept
coming,'' Noronen said. ``From my point of view, I let in one or two easy goals
and we couldn't bounce back.''
Sabres defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick left the game in the first period with an
apparent knee injury and didn't return. His status wasn't immediately known.
``We were down to five defensemen and there were some matchups that were in
their favor,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.
Recent free-agent signing Rob Ray made his return to the NHL with Ottawa.
The Senators needed toughness so they added the 35-year-old forward on Feb. 15
before assigning him to Binghamton of the AHL for conditioning.
He replaced the flashy Martin Havlat, who served the first of a two-game
suspension for high-sticking Philadelphia's Mark Recchi on Thursday.
However, it was Neil, who took an early penalty. Just seconds after it
expired, Mair deflected Henrik Tallinder's shot from the point past Lalime to
make it 1-0.
Noronen had to make several good stops to maintain the lead until Alfredsson
tied it in the final minute of the first period.
The Senators then scored three unanswered goals in the second, including two
in a 32-second span, as they out shot the Sabres 16-5.
Redden scored while Buffalo's Taylor Pyatt served a four-minute penalty for
high-sticking midway through the period. Smolinski and Chara then struck in
``The first period was a battle and the usual game when we play Buffalo,''
Martin said. ``After the first, we got some good pressure ... then kind of got
going in the second.''
Bondra scored his second goal since being acquired from Washington, and
Hossa and Neil tallied in the third.