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Game 72 preview: Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres

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A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres on 18 March 2016.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

With just 11 games left, every point is so important and tonight is no different as Erik Karlsson looks to battle to keep his hold on third place in the NHL scoring race. Karlsson is currently tied for third place with Tyler Seguin at 73 points. With Seguin out injured for the remainder of the regular season, Karlsson's main contenders are now Sidney Crosby (72 points, 12 games left), Evgeny Kuznetsov (70 points, 13 games left) and Johnny Gaudreau (70 points, 12 games left).

On a side note, Karlsson and his teammates will look for their third straight win when they visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight. A win would move Ottawa into 10th place in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres will be without the injured Robin Lehner. Ottawa will go with the same lineup, although Zack Smith is ill and a game time decision. Here is the likely lineup:

Smith - Pageau - Stone
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Chiasson
Dzingel - Gomez - Ryan
Paul - Lazar - Neil

Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Kostka - Wideman

Anderson (starter)
Wideman

Some notes for tonight:

  • With his two assists on Tuesday, Erik Karlsson broke his own club record for assists by a defenceman in a single season. It is now at 60 and counting.
  • Karlsson's next assist will pass Daniel Alfredsson for the second most assists in a single season by a Senator. Jason Spezza holds the club record with 71 in 2005-2006.
  • Mike Hoffman is one of 16 players players to have scored 25 or more goals both this year and last year. He is 18th in the league in goals from the start of last year, eighth in even strength goals and ninth in 5-on-5 goals.
  • If Karlsson can get 36 more shots on goal over the next 11 games, he will get to 250 shots for fourth straight season excluding the lockout year. It has been done four times by all other defencemen during that period.
  • The Senators have scored or conceded a tying or winning goal during the final three minutes in four out of the last six games. They scored the winning goal with 2:15 left in Toronto on 5 March, and then allowed the winning goal with 2:14 left against Dallas on 6 March. On 8 March, the Senators allowed the tying goal with one second left against Carolina and then scored the tying goal with eight seconds left against Minnesota on 15 March.
  • Mark Stone is on a six-game points streak.
  • Mika Zibanejad has now set a career high with 27 assists.
  • Since the NHL started tracking even strength points, Brian Leetch has the most by a defenceman with 55 in 1991-1992. Karlsson's 2011-2012 was tied for the fourth highest with 50 and Karlsson has 49 so far this season with a decent chance to pass Leetch.
  • Ottawa is 6-2 during the 5-minute overtime period this year.
  • The Senators have been outshot in 47 of their 71 games this year but have gone 29-18-6 in those games.
  • If Zack Smith cannot play, Matt Puempel will play for him.
  • Ottawa needs something along the lines of a 9-2-0 finish, the Red Wings going 5-6-0 and the Flyers going 5-7-1 to make the playoffs.

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net. Note that Corsi is now adjusted for score as well as the venue and event type.

Category Ottawa Buffalo
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 26 Jack Eichel 22
Assists Erik Karlsson 60 Ryan O'Reilly 33
Points Erik Karlsson 73 Ryan O'Reilly 50
Shots Erik Karlsson 214 Evander Kane 252
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 29:07 Rasmus Ristolainen 25:22

Category Ottawa Buffalo
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.80 5th 2.36 28th
Goals Against 3.01 27th 2.63 17th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Corsi % 47.7% 22nd 45.6% 29th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick % 47.3% 23rd 45.5% 29th
Shots For 28.1 28th 29.8 16th
Shots Against 33.2 30th 30.9 23rd