|Senators forward Ryan Shannon hopes to make an offensive contribution with Alex Kovalev out of the lineup for tonight's crucial matchup in Buffalo (Getty Images).
There is something about the Buffalo Sabres that seems bring out the best in the Ottawa Senators.
Ryan Shannon hopes it's true for him, too.
With forward Alex Kovalev out of the lineup for tonight's crucial matchup between the teams at HSBC Arena in Buffalo (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200), the Senators are hoping the speedy Shannon can help fill the void in a game Ottawa has to have if it's to reel in Buffalo for top spot in the Northeast Division.
"He's had success against Buffalo," head coach Cory Clouston said of Shannon, who was a healthy scratch during the Senators' previoust two games, both of them 2-0 shutout victories over the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers. "He's played well in this building in the past. He's got to get back on track. He's got get back to moving his feet and being creative, and he's got to generate offence.
"Just get back to playing the way he knows how to play."
Shannon knows exactly what that means.
"It's an opportunity to get back in the lineup and play a strong game," he said. "My game is moving my feet, being strong on the forecheck, creating turnovers and trying to make plays. The biggest thing is production and making sure I can contribute offensively."
"I think it'll be intense. I think it'll be a playoff-type atmosphere. We expect them to come very hard and I expect us to do the exact same thing. We've played well the last couple of games and we need to carry that over to tonight's game." - Cory Clouston
The Senators have won all four previous meetings with the Sabres this season and own an eight-game winning streak against their division rivals going back to 2008-09. Buffalo currently holds a seven-point edge in the Northeast race, along with two games in hand. All of that figures to heighten the atmosphere this evening.
"I think it'll be intense," said Clouston. "I think it'll be a playoff-type atmosphere. We expect them to come very hard and I expect us to do the exact same thing. We've played well the last couple of games and we need to carry that over to tonight's game."
And the Senators know exactly the formula they need to produce another victory.
"We have to stick to our system and do what we can to win," said forward Nick Foligno
. "We've had great goaltending from Brian Elliott, great D, great physicality in our defensive zone and our forwards are coming up with timely goals.
"We haven't scored a lot of goals but we've scored the ones we've needed to. That's what you need going forward."Around the boards
Kovalev's injury (lower body) isn't considered serious and Clouston considers him "possible" for Saturday night, when the Florida Panthers visit Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). "I'm not going to say whether it's affected his play or not, but it's (something that has) bothered him for awhile." ... Defenceman Filip Kuba
(upper body) remains out ... Elliott, who gets the start tonight, has posted 143:43 of consecutive shutout hockey. He's less than a game away from the franchise record held by Patrick Lalime (184:06) … The Senators' lines during the pre-game skate: Peter Regin-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson; Matt Cullen-Mike Fisher-Ryan Shannon; Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil and Nick Foligno-Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester ... Binghamton Senators forward Jonathan Cheechoo has been slapped with a two-game suspension after receiving a boarding major and game misconduct in Wednesday's loss to the Toronto Marlies ... Fewer than 1,750 tickets remain for Saturday's game.