Pascal Leclaire showed he might be the answer to the Ottawa Senators
' goaltending situation. But not even Leclaire had an answer for Derek Roy
The speedy Buffalo center scored twice, including the tie-breaking goal midway through the third period, as the Sabres overcame Leclaire's 34-save performance and opened their season by beating the Senators 2-1 at Scotiabank Place on Friday night.
Leclaire and Brian Elliott struggled throughout training camp and the preseason, leaving questions as to which one would step up and take hold of the starting job. Leclaire's performance should help his cause.
"I felt good," Leclaire said. "The first five minutes I had the nerves, but as things got going I felt comfortable. I got a lot of shots so it was easy to get into the game and it was a good start.
"But it will be better when we get our first win."
The Sabres have no such worries in goal -- Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller was his usual superb self in goal for Buffalo, stopping 25 of 26 shots. Chris Kelly was the only Senator to beat him, tying the game at 1-1 with 49 seconds left in the second period.
Roy untied it to give the Sabres a good start to their season -- a win over a Northeast Division rival.
"It's more satisfying to get the two points and deny them a point, a divisional opponent," Roy said. "We wanted to come out and make a statement, come out real strong, and I thought we did that. We missed a few chances in the first period, but at the end of the night we got the win and I think everyone in here is happy."
The Sabres killed off two late penalties -- including a slashing call on Mike Grier with 21 seconds remaining -- as the Senators went 0 for 5 on the power play.
"They've got some great players on that power play," Miller said. "They had some looks but we pushed them and made it a little harder on them."
The Senators outshot Buffalo 14-7 in the third period, but it was the Sabres who got the break they needed to win.
"We played pretty good in the third and we pushed hard. It was our best period," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We were spread out and they used that. They had a lot of chances off the rush. We were back on our heels and didn't really play with the puck that much in the first two periods."
On the winning goal, Leclaire forced Roy to the outside, but Roy went behind the net and banked the puck off the goaltender's skate to break the tie. The play started with a great rush by second-year defenseman Tyler Myers, who stole the puck in his own end and brought it into the Senators' zone before Tyler Ennis fed Roy for his second assist of the game.
Roy put the Sabres ahead 8:04 into the game, beating Leclaire with a backhander, but Kelly tied it when he redirected a perfect cross-crease pass from Jarkko Ruutu past Miller on a play that started with Chris Neil stealing the puck from Buffalo defenseman Jordan Leopold at the Ottawa blue line,
"It was all them," Kelly said of his linemates on the goal. "It was a great play by (Neil) to strip that guy and it was a great pass (Ruutu) made to me, and I just had to tap it in.
"If they can do that every night I'll be happy."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report