KANATA, ONTARIO – The Buffalo Sabres rallied back from a third-period deficit on Saturday, but were unable to generate the energy necessary to come back Monday night.
Bobby Ryan recorded a hat trick for the Ottawa Senators as they defeated the Sabres 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre. Clarke MacArthur and Colin Greening also scored for Ottawa.
Mark Pysyk and Zemgus Girgensons had Buffalo’s goals. Jhonas Enroth made 31 saves.
The Sabres and Senators were tied 2-2 heading into the third period before the Senators stepped up and took control. Ryan scored the go-ahead goal 3:02 into the third to complete his hat trick.
“We did a good job getting the lead, kept it close and then they came out in the third and outplayed us and deserved to win,” Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan wasn’t satisfied with his team’s physical play.
“Tonight was just one of those uncharacteristic games for us. We didn’t finish any hits. I don’t know if we got any hits at all,” Nolan said. “We didn’t play physical. We didn’t have too much energy, It’s that time of season where a lot of our team is gutting through some stuff. We’re not playing 100 percent right now.
“…It was a soft night. In front of our net, we didn’t hit anybody. We didn’t make it tough on their players at all. When you don’t make it tough, it’s an easy game, especially for skilled guys like Ryan and others.”
The Sabres have been battling the flu bug for the past week. Some players are playing sick and others have had to miss games because of illness. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, for instance, stayed back in Buffalo after the team’s game on Saturday in order to recover.
“We still have a lot of guys under the weather a little bit, trying to fight through it and you give them full marks for that,” Nolan said. “We found a little bit of energy in the second. We had none in the third.”
Ryan opened the scoring with 1:36 left in the first period, scoring off a shot Enroth saved that then hit the post. The puck bounced right to Ryan, who finished the play.
Pysyk tied the game 1-1 just 1:53 into the second period with the third goal of his career. He capitalized on a turnover in the Ottawa zone by Senators captain Erik Karlsson. He then threw the puck on net where Chris Stewart was creating traffic. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson directed the puck back out in front of the net where it bounced off Stewart and back wide toward the goal.
Pysyk followed up on the play, curled around behind the net and tucked the puck in from the far side.
“I saw the puck bounce off Stewie’s shin pad or something in front and saw it still there,” Pysyk said. “So I came right around and was lucky it was still there.”
Buffalo took the lead when Girgensons banged home a loose puck in the crease 8:37 into the second. The assists went to Matt Moulson and Nikita Zadorov, who worked the puck up ice to Girgensons.
Zadorov rifled a pass cross-ice from his own zone to Moulson, who was going in over the Senators line on the right wing. Moulson then hit Girgensons in stride and put the puck on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson in tight.
Anderson lost the puck in his pads and Girgensons was able to find it and put it home. He now has 11 goals on the season.
However, Ryan scored another goal late in a period, this time to make it 2-2 with 1:19 remaining in the second.
“It would’ve definitely been much nicer to go with a lead into the third, but now it’s a 2-2 game,” Girgensons said. “You can’t show up the way we showed up for the third period.”
MacArthur tallied on the power play with 8:06 to go in regulation to make it 4-2. Colin Greening was awarded Ottawa’s fifth goal with 1.1 seconds left when he was interfered with while trying to score on an empty net.
SCORELESS ON THE PP
Buffalo went 0-for-4 with the man advantage against the Senators. At home this season, Buffalo’s power play is 6-for-62 (9.7 percent). On the road, they are now 3-for-43 (7.0 percent).
“Our power play needed to get us one to get us going and we couldn’t do that,” Ennis said. “Their [power play] got them momentum and I think they just had more compete than us in the third.”
Later on in the game, Buffalo wasn’t able to establish much zone time or offensive pressure at all.
“We’re not shooting the puck. We’re making bad decisions and just not collectively working,” Girgensons said.
Patrick Kaleta is one of many Sabres to have battled injuries this season. However, he’s had to deal with more than most in the past year.
He got into his first fight of the year with Jared Cowen in the first period. During the preseason, Kaleta needed surgery to repair bones in his face after he was struck in the right cheek with a slap shot. He had plates and screws inserted, so he’s been reluctant to drop the gloves as he continues to heal.
He later tumbled down into the end boards with Cowen 3:59 into the third. Kaleta crashed into the boards hard and needed help off the ice, putting very little pressure on his right leg.
Kaleta had major surgery on his right knee last fall. While the injury looked like it could have been pretty severe, Nolan offered a hopeful prognosis after the year.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready next game,” Nolan said. “One thing about Kaleta, we can rely on him, boy. He gives you everything he has every shift and we certainly missed him when he left.”
TUX AND PUCKS UP NEXT
Buffalo’s next game is on Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town for a 6 p.m. faceoff on New Year’s Eve.
Fans who are looking to dress in their New Year’s Eve best can take advantage of a special offer from “Tux and Pucks” sponsor Tuxedo Junction. Simply bring your game ticket to any Tuxedo Junction to receive a complete tuxedo rental for $20.15. The offer will run up through game time on Wednesday.
Four 50/50 raffle drawings will also be held during the game. The grand prize drawing will have a guaranteed minimum pot of $20,015, with the three other drawings having a guaranteed prize amount of $2,015.