The Ottawa Senators will look to creep closer to the Atlantic Division title when they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight. Since the Senators beat the Islanders on Saturday afternoon, the Montréal Canadiens lost consecutive games in regulation. That has left Ottawa six points behind Montréal with five games in hand, giving the Senators a small lead in points per game.
The Sabres are coming off a 4-2 loss to Vancouver and are two points ahead of the Red Wings for last place in the division. They are eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot with two games in hand, but they have a lot of teams to pass as well.
After returning to the lineup with a shutout, Craig Anderson will start again. Chris Neil will also be back in meaning that the team will be back to six defencemen. It is unclear who will sit between Mark Borowiecki and Fredrik Claesson.
Here are the likely lines.
Smith - Turris - Hoffman
Dzingel - Brassard - Stone
Pyatt - Pageau - Ryan
Wingels - Kelly - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Borowiecki/Claesson - Wideman
Some notes for tonight:
- Bobby Ryan is without a point in his last five games and has just seven shots on goal.
- Mark Stone became the first Senator to reach 20 goals this season after scoring for the second consecutive game.
- Mark Borowiecki has more than twice as many hitzzzz as the next closest Senator. He is very tough and stuff.
- The Sabres have allowed an NHL high 34.1 shots per game. Ottawa is decidedly average allowing the 15th fewest at 30.2.
- Buffalo is 1-5 in the shootout this year.
- Aside from shot attempts and the standings, there aren't too many places Ottawa is significantly better or worse than average.
- The Ottawa Senators are second in the NHL with 29 wraparound shots! They are one behind the Oilers with three games in hand meaning we are the NHL's wraparound/game leader.
- Ottawa is now 19-3-2 when scoring the first goal. The Sabres have won just over half their games when scoring first, going 15-7-6.
- The Sabres have won six times when trailing after two periods. Only Montréal and Pittsburgh have done it more times with seven.
- Mike Hoffman was held without a shot on goal on Saturday. That was the first game that has happened since 7 December.
- After tonight, the Senators will play 18 of their remaining 28 games on the road.
Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from Corsica.
|Goals||Mark Stone||20||Kyle Okposo||18|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||45||Kyle Okposo||37|
|Shots||Mike Hoffman||145||Evander Kane||155|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||26:53||Rasmus Ristolainen||27:08|
|Zone, Score and venue adjusted Corsi %||47.75%||25th||47.06%||28th|
|Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick %||47.73%||25th||46.72%||29th|