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Game 36 Preview + Open Thread: Buffalo Sabres @ Ottawa Senators

Robin Lehner has left them, so why are the Sabres still tormenting us?

Buffalo Sabres v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators are currently on a run of relatively strong play, with 8 wins in their last 15 games. In that stretch, they’ve frustrated the Carolina Hurricanes, shut out the back-to-back champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning, embarrassed the Florida Pathers by an 8-2 score, and landed the Edmonton Oilers on rock bottom.

It’s loads of fun to knock down the league’s top teams (or mediocre teams with top talent in Edmonton’s case), but the opposite is true when the weaker clubs roll into town and come away with two points that your team should’ve had.

Case in point, the Buffalo Sabres. A 3-1 loss a week ago was frustrating enough, but the way in which it happened was especially painful. Tonight, the Senators look to build on Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and get their revenge. If Buffalo’s going to lean on their goaltender to carry them to victory again, can it at least be Craig Anderson this time?

Game Notes:

  • Ottawa will be without Jacob Bernard-Docker, reassigned to Belleville yesterday, as well as Erik Brännström (Covid protocol), who’s quickly becoming the team’s unluckiest player. Lassi Thomson has been recalled and will likely play tonight.
  • The Sabres, coming off of a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers (a microcosm of the Rasmus Ristolainen trade), have had some unexpected offensive contribution from their roster this season, especially from Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo, widely regarded as being on two of the worst contracts in the entire league. It goes to show that even if a player is past their prime, one or two seasons of poor play don’t necessarily mean they’re “done”.
  • Their leading scorer has also been a surprise — Tage Thompson, the centrepiece of the Ryan O’Reilly trade a few years back, has doubled his production from last season with 28 points in 38 games and is playing like a top-six forward for the first time in his career.
  • It’s a 7:00 pm puck drop tonight, and you can catch the game live on RDS, TSN5, and TSN 1200.

Stats:

Team Stats

Game 36 Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Game 36 Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.77 21st 2.66 25th
Goals Against/GP 3.57 29th 3.44 27th
Shots/GP 29.4 23rd 28.7 27th
Shots Against/GP 33.8 28th 34.7 31st
Powerplay % 18.6 19th 20.9 14th
Penalty Kill % 79.1 18th 75.7 25th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 45.41 28th 45.83 26th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 46.67 24th 43.97 30th

Player Stats

Game 36 Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Game 36 Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 18 Jeff Skinner 16
Assists Drake Batherson 21 Rasmus Dahlin 21
Points Drake Batherson 33 Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin 28
Shots Brady Tkachuk 103 Tage Thompson 119
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 27:05 Rasmus Dahlin 23:50