BY: DAVID KOLB
OTTAWA SENATORS (7-5-0) @ BUFFALO SABRES (5-5-2)
The Buffalo Sabres host the Senators tonight as Ottawa finishes up a back-to-back set after falling to the Nashville Predators, 3-1, last night. Buffalo is looking to bounce back from a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Monday. The Sabres hope to have caught a scheduling break facing their Atlantic Division foes the night after a tough battle against the Preds.
MAKING A MOVE
Six points will be available for Buffalo over the next four days, including tonight’s tilt against the Sens, as Buffalo will battle the New Jersey Devils both on Friday and Saturday. Only three points separate the Sabres (eighth in Atlantic) and Tampa Bay Lightning (second in Atlantic). So, with a few wins, the Sabres (with one game in hand) have the potential to climb the standings rather quickly.
SECOND MEETING THIS WEEK
These two teams will take the ice after the two clubs squared off this past Saturday in Ottawa as the Sabres edged the Sens, 2–1. Down 1-0 entering the third period, Kyle Okposo scored his fifth goal of the season, 1:07 into the third period to tie the game. Then, Sam Reinhart scored his second goal the season with 11:38 left in the game to help grab the key divisional win.
The Sabres offense will get a much-needed boost with the return of Evander Kane to the lineup tonight. Kane returns after missing just 11 games after cracking his ribs in a scary collision into the end boards in the season opener against Montreal.
Despite winning the first tilt against Ottawa, the Sabres did not fair well in the faceoff circle. They closed out their first meeting Saturday with the Senators losing 30 out of 54 faceoffs. Sabres center, Zegmus Girgensons must do better at the dot, as he only won three of 11 draws, while Derek Brassard was outstanding for Ottawa, winning 11 of 15 faceoffs.
Each time the Sabres face the Senators, the primary focus for Buffalo is stopping the free-wheeling all-star defenseman, Erik Karlsson. Karlsson skated for a ridiculous 29-minutes Saturday against the Sabres and gained an assist, giving him three goals and seven assists for ten points in 12 games.