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Sabres, Senators continue to battle for position

by Eric Goodman /
SABRES (16-13-3) at SENATORS (15-14-4)


Last 10:
Buffalo 4-4-2; Ottawa 4-4-2

Season series:
This is the fourth of six games between these Northeast Division rivals. The Sabres hold the advantage with a regulation win, a shootout win and an overtime loss. Buffalo will look to extend its winning streak at Scotiabank Place to six games.

Big Story: The Sabres and Senators haven't been overly impressive so far this season, but both are still right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Ottawa will aim to right the ship at home against Buffalo, where it is just 2-3-2 over its last seven games hosting the Sabres.

Team Scope:

Buffalo would like to leave Saturday's season-worst 8-3 loss at Pittsburgh in the rear-view mirror as it looks to remain in the top eight of the Eastern Conference standings. Three quick Penguins goals led to starting goalie Ryan Miller being chased with just over 10 minutes to play in the first.

But despite the poor showing, Miller is committed to brushing off any bad memories of that game and is looking forward to redeeming himself.

"I wasn't good enough," Miller said. "I don't think that was anywhere close to good hockey on my part, so I just have to regroup and recover."

Senators: December has been marked by inconsistency for Ottawa as it is just 3-4-2 overall and 2-3-0 at home this month. The Sens will also try to stop the Sabres from winning their sixth straight on their home ice.

A similar effort to what the Senators turned out in a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh on Friday would be exactly what captain Daniel Alfredsson and company could use to break the cold streak against Buffalo.

"We did a lot of good things offensively," Alfredsson said after the game. "(The Penguins) scored two quick power-play goals on two chances there which were questionable calls. That was tough, but we got a fourth one right after -- and that's huge -- to get our momentum back."

Who's Hot: Thomas Vanek has 4 goals in as many games -- as well as 2 assists -- for the Sabres. Jason Pominville has 1 goal and 7 assists during a six-game points streak. … Jason Spezza was named the NHL's First Star for the past week after he registered 3 goals and 5 assists and extended his points streak to five games (3 goals, 8 assists). Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has 2 goals and 3 assists over his last two games. Jared Cowen had a 4-point effort Saturday, including his second goal in three games.

Injury Report: Forwards Ville Leino and Jochen Hecht (lower body) were still out of the lineup on Saturday and no updates were available on their playing status for Tuesday. Forwards Brad Boyes (knee) and Nathan Gerbe (concussion) and defenseman Tyler Myers (wrist) are on injured reserve. … Forward Milan Michalek could miss his third straight game as he continues to recover from a concussion. Defensemen Sergei Gonchar (questionable) and Filip Kuba (IR) remain out with upper-body injuries.

Stat Pack: Ottawa will look to improve upon a League-worst 116 goals against as it faces a Buffalo team that is averaging just 2.6 goals over its last five games.

Puck Drop:
The Senators made a move to improve their strength up the middle by trading young defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft to Phoenix for 22-year-old center Kyle Turris this past Saturday.

"We hope Kyle is a good second-line centerman who will come in and play hard. We believe he is a very talented young man that will be a real nice addition to our forward group," Ottawa GM Bryan Murray said following the deal.

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