GAME: Ottawa Senators (35-16-9-5) at Buffalo Sabres (28-30-6-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators are battling for the NHL's best record and first place
in the Eastern Conference.
The Buffalo Sabres only wish their goals were that lofty.
Coming off a lopsided victory in the opener of this home-and-home series,
Ottawa will look for a repeat performance when the teams meet at HSBC Arena.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson's goal late in the first period was the first of
seven unanswered scores by the Senators in a 7-1 rout of the Sabres at the
Corel Centre on Saturday.
Bryan Smolinski had a goal and two assists for Ottawa, which earned at least
a point in its 20th straight home game and finished with a 7-2-2-1 record in
The Senators are trying to hold off Boston and Toronto for the Northeast
Division lead while also battling Philadelphia and Tampa Bay for the top seed
in the Eastern Conference.
"It's good, we'd love to score seven goals every night," Smolinski said.
"We caught them after they had to play last night."
Saturday's win was the 399th for Senators coach Jacques Martin, leaving him
one shy of becoming the 14th in league history with 400.
Wednesday begins a stretch during which Ottawa plays seven of eight games on
the road. The Senators play 13 of their final 17 games away from the Corel
Senators left wing Martin Havlat will serve the final game of a two-game
suspension Wednesday for a high-sticking incident against Philadelphia's Mark
Recchi on Thursday.
Still clinging to slim playoff hopes, the Sabres have picked an awful time
for a four-game losing streak.
They have been outscored 23-6 during the skid, failing to pick up any ground
on the eighth-place New York Islanders. The losing streak comes after Buffalo
put together a 9-1-1 stretch from late January to the middle of February to get
back into the playoff race.
"I don't know what's going on with us," captain Daniel Briere said. "I
don't know if teams are too hard to play or if we're too scared."
Buffalo's Rory Fitzpatrick sustained a potential season-ending knee injury
Saturday, leaving the Sabres with just five defensemen.
Although not completely healed from a pinched nerve in his neck, James
Patrick is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday after missing 15 games.
STANDINGS: Senators - 84 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Sabres - 63
points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Marian Hossa, 28 goals, 41 assists and 69 points;
Chris Neil, 146 PIM. Sabres - Miroslav Satan, 24 goals; Briere, 28 assists and
49 points; Andrew Peters, 114 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 1): Senators - Power play: 22.0 percent (69 for
313), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (235 for 279), 15th. Sabres -
Power play: 15.4 percent (43 for 279), 20th. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (240
for 284), 12th.
GOALTENDERS: Senators - Patrick Lalime (22-17-7, 3 SO, 2.22 GAA); Martin
Prusek (12-4-2, 3, 1.86). Sabres - Martin Biron (17-13-4, 2.68); Mika Noronen
(11-15-2, 2, 2.47).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 2-1-2.
LAST MEETING: Sunday; Senators, 7-1. At Ottawa, Lalime needed to make just
14 saves and Peter Bondra, Hossa and Chris Neil scored third-period goals for
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 14-9-4-1 on the road; Sabres - 17-11-4-1 at