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Post-game report: Sabres 2 Ottawa 1 (shootout)

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Thomas Vanek scored the winning goal in the shootout to give the Buffalo Sabres a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in a matchup of the two top teams in the Northeast Division on Saturday night.

In the second round, Vanek faked a shot before depositing a wrist shot into the top right corner past Ottawa goalie Dominik Hasek.

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller then stopped Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson's attempt in the final round to get the win, which pulled the Sabres within four points of the division-leading Senators.

Ales Kotalik scored in regulation for Buffalo, which won its fifth straight. Miller made 28 saves and extended his personal winning streak to five games.

Bryan Smolinski scored for the Senators, who have lost three of their last four games. Hasek finished with 26 saves, and has now dropped two of his last three starts.

Hasek was making his second start in Buffalo after spending nine seasons with the Sabres beginning in 1992. In his first start while playing for Detroit in March 2002, he was pulled after allowing four goals in two periods.

Kotalik opened the scoring with his team-leading 21st goal at 12:11 of the first period while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Setting up at the top of the left circle, Kotalik one-timed Jochen Hecht's cross-ice pass to beat Hasek.

Smolinski tied it at 1 with just over 15 minutes left in the second. Peter Schaefer outmuscled two Buffalo defenders behind the net, while Miller started moving to the left post. Schaefer was able to slid the puck to the opposite side, where Smolinski stuffed it into the open net.

Notes: The two teams will play four more times over a 22-day span starting on March 18 when they meet in Ottawa. Senators D Brian Pothier returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with food poisoning. Kotalik tied his career high of 21 goals originally set in 2002-03. Ottawa was playing its fourth game in the last six days. Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan immediately left the ice and didn't return following a first period fight with Buffalo forward Andrew Peters. Senators officials said McGrattan's right eye had swelled up.

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