Skip to main content

Sabres-Senators Preview

NHL.com @NHL

GAME: Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference semifinals; Sabres lead 3-1.

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EDT.

The Buffalo Sabres get a second chance to close out their series with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in seven years.

The Sabres last advanced to the conference finals in 1999, where they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs and lost to the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Buffalo failed to sweep the Senators by dropping Game 4, 2-1, on Thursday, as Senators goaltender Ray Emery made 29 saves to extend the series.

"I've said it before, if there's any team capable of coming back from a 3-0 deficit it's this team because of the talent and how badly we want it," Emery said.

Defensemen Brian Pothier and Wade Redden scored for the Senators, with Redden's power-play goal with 17:08 to play the difference.

Sabres center Daniel Briere said Buffalo needs to play the style of game that has gotten them this far.

"We have to play as hard as we can," he said. "What won the first three games was our desperation. If we get that desperation back in our game, there's no doubt we'll find a way to clinch."

Briere scored the lone goal for the Sabres to snap a five-game goal drought, but it marked his team-leading 13th point in 10 playoff games this season.

The Sabres lead the league with 40 playoff goals, but have netted only six in the last three games. Luckily for them, goaltender Ryan Miller has held the Senators' potent offense to five goals in those games.

Miller is 7-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average, one shutout and a .918 save percentage in his first postseason run.

The Senators will need Emery to build on Thursday's solid play if they are to stay alive for a Game 6, which would be Monday at Buffalo.

"I was motivated by the fact that I wasn't happy with my play in this series and felt accountable to the guys," Emery said. "That's enough motivation to want to play well."

The 23-year-old netminder has not received the scoring support in the series that he saw all season. The Senators led the league with 314 goals in the regular season and their 34 in the playoffs are second to the Sabres.

The Senators have been outscored 13-11 in the series by Buffalo, so if they can regain their scoring touch and Emery can continue to hold the Sabres, they may be able to close the gap in the series.

"We still believe we can win this series," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "It's just finding your way to win, that's all that matters now. It's a step in the right direction for us."

Alfredsson is hoping to snap an eight-game goal drought, where he has not scored since Game 1 of the quarterfinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 21. He was tied for the team lead in scoring with Dany Heatley at 103 points in the regular season, but he is only tied for fifth-best in the playoffs with nine points.

Heatley - a 50-goal scorer in the regular season - has not gotten a point in his last three games.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Senators - 1st seed; beat Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, quarterfinals. Sabres - 4th seed; beat Philadelphia Flyers 4-2, quarterfinals.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Martin Havlat, 7 goals; Heatley, 9 assists; Havlat, Jason Spezza, 13 points; Zdeno Chara, 21 PIM. Sabres - J.P. Dumont, 6 goals; Briere, 9 assists and 13 points; Jay McKee, 18 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Senators - Power play: 26.5 percent (13 for 49). Penalty killing: 87.8 percent (43 for 49). Sabres - Power play: 15.2 percent (9 for 59). Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (46 for 54).

GOALTENDERS: Senators - Emery (5-4, 0 SO, 2.88 GAA); Mike Morrison (no appearances); Hasek (no appearances). Sabres - Miller (7-3, 1, 2.29); Martin Biron (no appearances).

View More