GAME: Buffalo Sabres (28-29-6-1) at Ottawa Senators (34-16-9-5).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Back under .500 and slipping in the playoff race, the Buffalo Sabres hope to
end a three-game losing streak when they begin a home-and-home series with the
Ottawa Senators at the Corel Centre.
Following a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1), the Sabres have been outscored
16-5 in three defeats, including Friday's critical 4-2 loss to the New York
Islanders. That left the Sabres eight points behind the Islanders for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's not out of reach," coach Lindy Ruff said of the playoffs. "But it's
going to be tough. We need to fire on all cylinders."
Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont each had a goal and an assist for Buffalo, which
was just three points behind the Islanders and Montreal for the eighth spot
Although they have earned a point in 10 of 11 games, the Senators have just
two wins in their last six (2-1-2-1). On Thursday, Ottawa tied the Philadelphia
Flyers 1-1 in a battle of division leaders.
Marian Hossa scored his 27th goal for Ottawa, which held a 40-18 advantage
The Senators will play both ends of the home-and-home without winger Martin
Havlat, who was suspended two games by the NHL on Friday for hitting
Philadelphia wing Mark Recchi in the face with his stick. Havlat, third on the
Senators with 55 points, can return March 5 at Philadelphia.
"I was frustrated from all the hooking before that," Havlat said. "I
wanted to hit him, but I didn't want to hit his face. I don't know where I hit
him, I didn't see a replay. It was a bad decision at that time."
Following Saturday's game, the Senators will play seven of eight on the
STANDINGS: Sabres - 63 points, 5th place, 19 PB, Northeast Division.
Senators - 82 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Miroslav Satan, 24 goals; Daniel Briere, 28 assists
and 49 points; Andrew Peters, 107 PIM. Senators - Hossa, 27 goals, 40 assists
and 67 points; Chris Neil, 144 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 26): Sabres - Power play:15.5 percent (42 for
271), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (233 for 275), 11th. Senators
- Power play: 22.1 percent (68 for 307), 2nd. Penalty killing:83.9 percent (230
for 274), 18th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Martin Biron (17-13-4, 0 SO, 2.66 GAA); Mika Noronen
(11-14-2, 2, 2.30). Senators - Patrick Lalime (21-17-7, 3, 2.24); Martin Prusek
(12-4-2, 3, 1.86).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 2-0-2.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 9; Sabres, 3-2. At Buffalo, Rory Fitzpatrick scored the
game-winner in the third period and Biron made 23 saves as the Sabres ended the
Senators' 11-game unbeaten streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 11-18-2-0 on the road; Senators - 20-7-5-4 at