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Senators, Sabres begin home-and-home series

by Brian Hunter

SENATORS (12-14-5) at SABRES (6-22-2)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-5-1; Buffalo 2-7-1

Season series: This is the second of four games this season between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres. Erik Karlsson scored the only goal and Craig Anderson stopped 35 shots in a 1-0 win against the Sabres on Oct. 4 at First Niagara Center.

Big story: Half of Buffalo's wins this season have come in the shootout. Prior to Monday night, Ottawa was not only 0-4 in shootouts, but hadn't even registered a goal in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. Captain Jason Spezza finally got them on the board to spark a 5-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers that gives the Senators some momentum entering this home-and-home series.

Team Scope:

Senators: Clarke MacArthur knows how to make the most of new surroundings. In his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010-11, he posted career highs of 21 goals and 62 points. Signed by Ottawa as a free agent last summer, MacArthur is on pace to surpass those totals and has been one of the Senators' most reliable forwards.

MacArthur scored twice against the Flyers to erase one-goal deficits in a back-and-forth affair. He was denied in the shootout, extending the Senators futile streak this season to 12 straight attempts, but Spezza used a nice deke to score in the third round and it proved decisive.

"It was a big two points for us," Anderson said. "We had some struggles all year this year with winning in the shootout, getting goals and making saves, on my end, but tonight kind of everything fell into place and I guess the stars were all lined up and we found a way to get that second point."

Sabres: The story remains the same in Buffalo: The goaltending is giving the Sabres a chance to win on most nights, but the offense remains 30th in the NHL by a wide margin at 1.60 goals per game.

Leading scorer Cody Hodgson was dropped to the third line at practice Monday, centering Luke Adam and Matt D'Agostini. The new first line has Tyler Ennis between Matt Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons. Other units included Steve Ott with Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford, and Ville Leino or Cody McCormick with John Scott and Brian Flynn.

"When you're not getting wins, sometimes things have to change," Moulson said in the Buffalo News. "You've got to perform and produce to keep going. Coach is looking for some different combinations to get things going, and hopefully everyone jells together."

Who's hot: MacArthur has eight goals and five assists in his past 11 games for the Senators. Patrick Wiercioch has two goals in the past three games. … Ennis has goals in consecutive games for the Sabres.

Injury report: Buffalo defenseman Alexander Sulzer (undisclosed) is on injured reserve.

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