Game 32 preview: Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres

USA TODAY Sports

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres on 10 December 2013.

The Ottawa Senators will attempt to move within four points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot when they visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight. The Senators have played well, outshooting and carrying the play for the majority of the last seven games. Unfortunately they have gone only 3-3-1 in that stretch. They need to start converting good play into wins though.

There will be only one change to the lineup with Robin Lehner getting the start. Here are the lines based on the distributions in last night's third period:

MacArthur - Spezza - Ryan
Michalek - Turris - Zibanejad
Conacher - Zibanejad - Condra
Greening - Smith - Neil
Kassian chilling

Méthot - Karlsson
Phillips - Corvo
Cowen - Wiercioch

Lehner (starter)
Anderson

Some notes for tonight:

  • Ottawa is six points behind Toronto and seven points behind Tampa Bay. The Senators play Buffalo twice while the Leafs play Los Angeles and St. Louis. Tampa Bay plays Washington and Detroit. How close will Ottawa be by the end of Thursday?
  • Robin Lehner didn't allow a goal on more than 10% of his shots all season before doing it in his last two games. None of the goals were particularly bad, but the club needs him to stop more shots. For the most part he has vastly outplayed Craig Anderson. The opposition is scoring on 10.5% of the shots against Anderson and 7% against Lehner. In other words, a shot is 50% more likely to go in against Anderson than Lehner so far.
  • The Senators strong play has seen them inch towards equality in the shots differential stats. A weak eastern conference gives the club some undeserved hope.
  • Hopefully the team can score the first goal tonight. This hasn't happened since the loss to Vancouver.
  • Buffalo is really bad at ice hockeying.

Here are some stats leaders for the two teams tonight.

Category Ottawa Buffalo
Player # Player #
Goals Bobby Ryan 14 Cody Hodgson 8
Assists Erik Karlsson 21 Cody Hodgson 10
Points Erik Karlsson 29 Cody Hodgson 18
Shots Erik Karlsson 94 Cody Hodgson 72
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:54 Christian Ehrhoff 24:00

Category Ottawa Buffalo
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.90 7th 1.60 30th
Goals Against 3.19 26th 3.03 24th
Corsi Close % 49.8% 15th 40.4% 30th
Fenwick Close % 48.6% 20th 39.5% 30th
Shots For 33.1 3rd 25.2 29th
Shots Against 34.1 27th 34.4 28th
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