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Senators top Sabres 4-2 for 10 wins in a row

by John Kreiser

The Buffalo Sabres still can't beat the Ottawa Senators. Not that anyone else has had much success recently, either.

The Senators extended their team-record winning streak to 10 games on Thursday night when Daniel Alfredsson scored twice in the final minute to give Ottawa a 4-2 win at Buffalo. Alfredsson broke a 2-2 tie with 60 seconds left when he tapped in Erik Karlsson's perfect pass from the right point, then added an empty-netter with 23 seconds left, extending a host of streaks for Ottawa.

In addition to the 10-game overall winning streak, the Senators matched a team mark set in 2002-03 by winning their sixth consecutive road game. They also extended their winning streak against the Sabres to eight games -- they're 24-6-4 against Buffalo since 2005-06 -- and closed within three points of first-place Buffalo in the Northeast Division.

"It is impressive," Alfredsson, the Senators' longest-tenured player, said of the winning streak. "I don't think we expected this from ourselves, either."

And why do the Senators seem to own the Sabres?

"It's is just the way it goes," he said. "I don't know if it's a mental thing. We're just playing with good consistency."

Ottawa also won its sixth straight road game to match a team mark set in closing the 2002-03 season. The Senators haven't lost since a 6-1 defeat at Atlanta on Jan. 12.

Goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 34 shots to win his eighth consecutive game, matching the team mark he set last season. Jason Spezza scored twice, giving him goals in seven consecutive games -- including five in a row after returning from knee surgery.

Spezza's second goal of the game at 5:59 of the third period gave Ottawa a 2-0 lead and appeared to settle the issue. But the Sabres delighted the HSBC Arena crowd by tying the game on goals 27 seconds apart by Andrej Sekera and Tim Connolly.

That only made the loss more stunning.

"We battled hard in the third to get back in it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "The best description is we just found another way to lose a game."

Alfredsson's game-winner came with shocking ease.

As the Senators worked the puck to Karlsson at the right point, Alfredsson sneaked in behind the defense and parked himself at the left post. Karlsson wound up as if to shoot, then fed a perfect pass through the slot to Alfredsson, who had enough time to stop the puck with his skate, kick it to his stick and stuff it into the open side.

"One minute left -- we can't let that guy stand all alone on the backdoor," Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder said. "It stings."

Despite giving up goals on consecutive shots, Elliott was one of the Senators' heroes -- he kept his team in the game, especially in the first period when Ottawa was outshot 13-5. He robbed Jochen Hecht on a backhander midway through the period, then got his body in front of a shot by Clarke MacArthur, who picked up a loose puck in the slot.

"Els has been phenomenal," Spezza said. "He was probably the reason why we won. He kept us in that game."

Elliott has allowed only 10 goals during his winning streak, and he credited his teammates for remaining composed after the Sabres tied the game.

"It's huge," Elliott said. "We're not quitting in the last minute."

Elliott also got a big assist from defenseman Chris Phillips during a first-period scramble. Hecht's shot deflected over Elliott, and the puck rolled down the goalie's back toward the open net. Phillips used his stick to bat the puck out of the air just before it crossed the line. he television feed didn't show an overhead angle replay because the high-definition camera above the Senators net wasn't working. Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert said officials reviewed an overhead view of the play recorded by an analog camera.

Spezza broke the ice by beating Ryan Miller with a wrist shot 13:38 into the second period. His second goal was a spectacular individual effort, as he controlled the puck in the Buffalo zone, skated across the slot deep into the right circle, and zipped a bad-angled wrister that caught the corner.

Sekera got the Sabres on the board at 7:17 when he drove in from the right point and tucked a shot the crossbar. The goal came off a faceoff net after Elliott made a brilliant glove on Thomas Vanek's blast from the slot. Connolly tied it at 7:44 when his 40-footer beat Elliott high on the glove side.

"They came at us and we kind of lost our focus for about 30 seconds," Elliott said. "We bent, but we didn't break. It was huge to get that goal with a minute to go. We get out of here with two points and they get nothing. Stealing one or not, it's good to see we can still win games."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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