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Senators Start Season Strong Against Sabres

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Ottawa begins the year on a high note in Buffalo with a little help from the NHL's newest rule in the book.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in three years, the Ottawa Senators opened their season south of the border in Buffalo.

And it didn't take long for the away team to strike. 30 seconds in, to be exact.

Kyle Turris took a sweet feed from Mike Hoffman and ripped it glove side past former Senators goalie Robin Lehner. The Swedish netminder was hung out to dry for the first shot of the year, likely some foreshadowing as to how Buffalo's defense will treat their goalies throughout the final 81 games.

Dave Cameron's newly formed top line of Stone, Turris and Hoffman clicked instantaneously and finished the first period with three points between them.

Seven minutes into the second frame, Lehner appeared to go down awkwardly after returning to his crease from playing the puck behind the net. After the 24-year-old had a chat with Sabres training staff, it was decided that he would take the rest of the night off.

Enter Chad Johnson, who would fair no better.

Halfway through the period it was Turris again, firing home his second goal of the season into a wide open cage. Once again, Hoffman and Stone tallied assists.

After 40 minutes of play, the top line had six points and Turris was on pace for 246 goals. An honest, sustainable number.

While the Senators found themselves in penalty trouble at the midway point of the period, Jack Eichel found himself with his first career NHL goal. The highly touted rookie ripped a wrist shot over Craig Anderson's right shoulder after he was left alone at the bottom of the circle.

The Sabres had life, and it sure looked like it immediately off the next faceoff.

After Eichel cut the lead to one, there seemed to be an extra hop in the step of every player in blue and yellow.

On an extremely weak wrap-around, Evander Kane scored to make it 2-2. Or so he thought.

Following the goal, Senators assistant coach André Tourigny ran down the bench to Cameron after getting word that the Sabres' goal came directly after an offside. Cameron elected to use the first coach's challenge in Senators history.

And it worked.

The disallowed goal looked to slow the Buffalo attack afterwards, but soon again they were pressuring Ottawa deep in their zone. If it wasn't for Anderson, the game definitely would have been tied, or worse.

Curtis Lazar would add an empty net goal, and the Senators were 1-0-0 to start the season.

Sens Hero: The Coach's Challenge

This is an obvious one.

The Senators looked to be in serious trouble as Buffalo was charging strong and hard. If it weren't for the NHL's newest rule, the Sabres very well could have ended up with two points instead of none.

After Montreal scored on two unnoticed high-sticks and Jean-Gabriel Pageau had his goal called back because of a quick whistle in Game 6 of last season's playoffs, Ottawa probably wishes the coach's challenge was present several months ago.

But they'll have to settle for tonight's win.

Honourable Mention: Craig Anderson and The HST Line

Speaking of the playoffs, Craig Anderson begins the 2015-16 season where he left off in the previous one. Stopping 26 of 27 shots faced, the Senators' netminder was stellar, and in the late stages of the second and third period, Ottawa desperately needed him to be just that.

Cameron is now looking like an absolute genius after the opening performance of his latest creation. Who knew throwing the Senators' leading goal scorer from last season on the first line would work out so well?

Hoffman, Stone and Turris had instant chemistry. Like, literally. It took them half a minute to register a combined three points. Maybe that's what happens when the top three forwards (yeah, you heard me) are put together.