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Senators shoot for series sweep of Sabres

by Brian Hunter

SENATORS (19-11-6) at SABRES (14-17-6)


Last 10: Ottawa 6-3-1; Buffalo 4-3-3

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these Northeast Division rivals. Ottawa will be aiming for the sweep. Kyle Turris leads all scorers with five points, including the overtime goal in the most recent matchup, a 4-3 win in Buffalo on March 16.

Big story: Craig Anderson, who hasn't played since Feb. 21 but still leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952) could be back for the Senators. On the other side, the Sabres begin a stretch in which they play eight of their final 11 games at First Niagara Center, but their uphill climb in the standings got a little steeper with Wednesday's trade of Jason Pominville.

Team Scope:

Senators: Anderson's return to health and the emergence of Robin Lehner as the goalie of the future allowed Ottawa to move Ben Bishop at the deadline for scoring help in Cory Conacher. Barring an extreme hot or cold streak, it appears the Senators will probably be battling the rival Maple Leafs for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, and if the rookie Conacher can rediscover his early scoring touch it would be a huge boost for a team that's lost Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek, and is in the bottom third of the League averaging 2.42 goals per game.

"It's very important for me to play hard, play the same way and do whatever it takes for the team to win and for me to be a part of that win," Conacher told the Ottawa Sun upon his acquisition.

Sabres: It was one of the more high-profile victories by an NHL team this season, but Buffalo's 4-1 triumph on Tuesday that snapped Pittsburgh's 15-game winning streak won't mean a whole lot in the long run if the Sabres can't string together some more solid efforts back on home ice. They still have a handful of teams to climb over if they're to gain eighth in the East, and although they got a nice haul in return for their former captain -- goalie Matt Hackett, forward Johan Larsson and two high draft picks -- they are also now without Pominville's 10 goals, 25 points and valued leadership abilities.

"It's not fun being where we are," general manager Darcy Regier said. "It doesn't matter if you're a fan or you're in my position, there's no enjoyment out of it. But there is an opportunity. What we're going to do is seize on the opportunity."

Who's hot: Colin Greening has goals in three of the past four games and Andre Benoit has goals in two of the past three for the Senators. … Kevin Porter scored his first two goals of the season on Tuesday for the Sabres. Ryan Miller, who survived the deadline still in a Buffalo uniform, has a .935 save percentage over his past five starts, allowing two goals or fewer in four of them.

Injury report: Anderson (ankle) could be back for Ottawa, whose injured reserve list currently includes Spezza (back), Karlsson (Achilles), Michalek (knee) and Jared Cowen (hip). Mike Hoffman (upper body) is day-to-day. … Buffalo's leading scorer, Thomas Vanek, has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury. Ville Leino (upper body) and Alexander Sulzer (knee) are also sidelined.

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