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Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 33 — Sabres vs. Senators

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

5:15 PM: Get set for puck drop with Gord Wilson and Sens TV...

5:00 PM: Joe Corvo is the subject of today's Gameday Goodie. He plays his 700th NHL game today.

4:45 PM: Patrick Wiercioch got 18 minutes of ice time and a shootout attempt on Tuesday in the first leg against Buffalo. Tonight he'll have a new defensive partner against the Sabres.

On his play in recent games:

I'm still working on it, I think there are a lot of areas and aspects the team has been struggling with in consistency. I think it's just a little easier when you do make a mistake you put it behind you, you're not dwelling on it, you're trying to contribute some more. I don't feel like I'm changing too much in my game, that's not what they asked me to do, but it helps when things start going your way. I think as a team we're seeing that in the right direction where we're getting rewarded for playing well defensively at times and getting shots to the net and everyone is chipping in, every line.

On his play with the puck:

I feel more comfortable in a game handling the puck than when I'm not. I think a lot of guys are the opposite way around, but for me if the puck's on my stick that's when I feel really involved, I can see the game and read it well. I think just getting myself in positions to make those bounces go towards you and get open for other guys because early on I was expecting guys to find me rather than making myself an option for them. Hopefully we can just keep going and move the puck to everyone.

On the growth in his pairing with Cowen:

He's a big, physical defenceman, it's awesome playing with someone like that because he separates guys from the puck so quickly. Any time you don't have to play defence and can get going on offence it makes the game a lot easier when you're not rolling around in your own zone. From just being partners I think you read off each other a little bit better, we know what each other is going to do. Unfortunately, he's out for two but I'm sure he'll be back in.

On his shootout attempt:

Honestly, Kyle and I do shootouts a lot in the summer, way back from when we were in BC together we'd spend the last 10 minutes of every practice on it. That's one that we talked about that he thought I should do. I would have liked to have dragged it a little more to the middle but seeing that the ice was pretty bad and seeing some guys miss the puck on the ice, I didn't want to risk making the extra move tighter to the crease than I had to. I sit in on every shootout meeting that we have just in case you get the opportunity to go. I think it's all fun, I wish we would have won the game on it but, at the end of the day, the shootout's amazing when you win and it feels like you got cheated if you lose. It's a tough point to win or lose.

4:30 PM: Cory Conacher got back on the scoresheet on Tuesday night. He'll line up with Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan to start tonight's game.

On getting a point vs. Buffalo:

It's always nice to relieve a little bit of stress by getting a point early on in a game. I'd rather the two points for the team, it was tough losing the shootout, it would have been nice to capitalize that assist with a shootout goal, but it's too bad we lost that one.

On playing in front of friends and family:

It was fun, I got some text messages after the game and stuff. It's always nice going back there. I had a nice visit with my little brother who goes to school there right now and we went out for a little lunch. It was another fun experience for my friends and family who came down and hopefully I can carry some of that energy back into tonight in Ottawa.

On re-joining Turris and Ryan:

I've just got to maintain confidence in myself, just play with confidence and make those simple plays. Especially early on in the game, make those simple plays to get your feet wet and get shots on net early and get that confidence that'll carry you throughout the game. I'm going to try and do that tonight and if I stay Turris and Ryan I can help make space for them and allow them to make the plays they can make.

On shooting more:

You can't get points if you don't shoot the puck, you can't score goals if you don't shoot the puck. It's going to be important for me to get bounce a bounce to go in every once and a while as long as I get pucks on net and get pucks down deep, low, work down low and, like I said, whatever I can do to get pucks on net, be in front of the net, be around the net and get those rebounds. Turris and Bobby are both shooters so if I'm playing with them I should be around the net and bury those rebounds.

On prior experience playing with Turris:

He's a guy that's a really good player, he's a good skater, I think we see each other pretty well. To add Bobby, we had Clarke early in the season, but Bobby is a little bit different player than Clarke is but he's also a player that can shoot the puck and score, he'll skate when he has to and I'm sure he'll be able to keep up with me and Turris and hopefully, like I said, I'll be able to make a bit of space for them in the game and allow them to do what they can do.

3:10 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Sabres...

Ottawa Senators


MacArthur - Spezza - Zibanejad

Conacher - Turris - Ryan

Greening - Pageau - Neil

Michalek - Smith - Condra


Corvo - Karlsson

Phillips - Ceci

Gryba - Wiercioch




Buffalo Sabres


Moulson - Ennis - Girgensons

Adam - Leino - D'Agostini

Foligno - Ott - Stafford

Scott - McCormick - Flynn


Tallinder - Myers

Ehrhoff - McBain

Pysyk - Weber




2:30 PM: Jean-Gabriel Pageau makes his return to the big club's lineup tonight. Here's what he had to say ahead of tonight's game...

On being back in Ottawa:

I'm really excited, I don't want to miss my chance again. I really want to come here, work hard and give everything I have to prove to them that I can play here.

On his game:

I think my game was good in Binghamton. I played a lot, I think Luke Richardson and Steve Stirling gave me a chance to play in a lot of different situations, gave me a lot of ice time and I think that helped my confidence a lot.

On the confidence boost:

It's always easier to play the game when your confidence level is high so to play a lot down there in different situations helped my case for sure.

On the shift in role from defensive to offensive:

Last year I had more of an offensive role at the end of the season but to have the chance to play this role again this year helped my confidence for this part of the game.

On his usage:

I think they gave me a chance to play with a lot of really good players, different situations — power play, penalty killing. Just to be on the ice a lot is a good feeling.

On his production:

I think I was just trying to keep things simple, work hard. When you do that I've always been told good things happen so I was just trying to give everything I had. Coach was putting me on the ice and good things happened.

On the point totals:

It's different, it's a little bit different. I had the chance to play on the PP and to have the experience to play in the NHL from last year that I learned in the playoffs and even at the beginning of the year helped my confidence when I went back to the American League. I was just trying to work hard and good things happened.

2:00 PM: Here's what Paul MacLean had to say after today's morning skate...

On tonight's lineup:

Pageau is going to play, Cody Ceci is going to play, Craig Anderson is the goalie, Gryba is going to play, Cowen is not playing, Methot has the flu. I think that's all.

On Pageau:

Pageau always brings energy and speed, his ability in the faceoff circle has been good and he's a penalty killer. A right handed faceoff guy for the penalty kill as well. But, for the most part, we'd just like him to bring his speed and energy.

On Ceci:

The report on Cody is he has been outstanding. He has been the best player on either team for the last 2-3 weeks if not a month. He has been playing the best down there so he's getting an opportunity to come here for a game and we get an opportunity to see him.

On Gryba:

Well he just needs to play, get the puck moving, keep it simple and be physical is all we've asked him to do and that's what we expect from him tonight.

On tonight's pairings:

Well we're going to get them all on the ice at some point in time, I believe Corvo has had some experience playing the left side so we're going to start there but we're going to have two guys out there all the time. If they can't play left we'll play two on the right. We're going to get them all out there and get the thing moving.

On Ceci and Phillips together in the pre-season:

I think that'll be good to get him started but Cody is playing well so we expect that he's going to come up andjust come in and play a simple game, do what he does and as he plays we'll play him. It won't matter who he plays with as long as we get him out there, but we will start him Chris and get him a chance to get his feet wet.

On Corvo:

Joe is playing his 700th game tonight, I think it's significant he has reached that milestone and that's the kind of player he has been for the last 10 games for us is a player that has played 700 games in the league. He has good experience, he's skating and moving the puck and doing things that veteran defencemen do to help stabilize our defensive zone and, for the most part, getting pucks out of our zone he has been one of the best in the last 10 games.

10:00 AM: It's gameday in Ottawa and the Senators are renewing their acquaintances with the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

The Sens came up short in a lengthy shootout in Buffalo on Tuesday night, though the single point extends their point streak to three games and a record of 1-0-2 over that span. Milan Michalek potted his fifth goal of the season that night as the lone goal scorer for the Sens and Robin Lehner made 35 saves in the loss. Ottawa will be without Jared Cowen tonight who serves the first of a two game suspension for a hit on Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons.

The Sabres have pushed their record to 7-22-2 on the season with the win, though they remain in the League's basement with 16 points.

The Sens will hit the ice at Canadian Tire Centre at 10:15 AM and I'll have plenty of updates to follow including, but not limited to, lineup changes, players' thoughts on tonight's game, Sens TV updates, Instagram goodness and more.

Stay tuned!

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