Ottawa Senators top the Buffalo Sabres 2-1
Despite second-period struggles, the Sens managed to leave Buffalo with a win.
Coming off a loss to Columbus over the weekend, the Senators went into Buffalo hoping to end a three-game losing streak. Robin Lehner got the start again for Ottawa, while Jhonas Enroth was in nets for Buffalo.
The Sens certainly took advantage of the last-place team in the league during the first period. They absolutely dominated the play, spending the majority of the period in Buffalo's end. Just a few minutes in, Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a great scoring chance when he and Mike Hoffman crashed the net. The puck sat on the goal line, but Josh Gorges saved the day for Buffalo, moving the puck just before it went in.
It wasn't until around the 12-minute mark that Erik Karlsson scored the Sens' first goal. After Brian Gionta took a tripping penalty, the Sens went on the power play and Karlsson released a slap shot from the point, netting the first goal of the game and giving Ottawa the lead. Kyle Turris and Mark Stone were awarded assists.
Other than a decent shot from Tyler Ennis on Lehner, Buffalo was unable to respond to Ottawa's goal, and the period would end at 1-0 for the Sens.
The second period saw a complete role reversal, with Buffalo taking control of the game. After five minutes, the Sabres had outshot the Sens 12-0. At just over six minutes into the period, a shot from Matt Moulson trickled by Robin Lehner and sat on the goal line for what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was a couple seconds, and Milan Michalek was able to drag the puck off the line, saving the goal for the Sens and Lehner.
Just past the half-way point of the period, Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Kaleta got themselves into a minor tussle. This led to fighting majors for both of them, and an extra penalty for Borowiecki. Buffalo would go on the power play. Luckily, power plays are not Buffalo's strongest area, and Ottawa was able to kill the penalty with ease.
Shortly afterwards, it looked like Buffalo tied things up when a shot from Mike Weber beat Lehner. The refs however, thought that Marcus Foligno interfered with Robin Lehner and recalled the goal immediately. That would be as close as Buffalo would come to tying up the game in the second period, despite largely outplaying the Senators. After 40 minutes of play, shots were 29-18 for Buffalo.
Buffalo finally got on the board early in the third period. Just under five minute in, Eric Gryba took a penalty for elbowing Zemgus Girgensons. On Buffalo's power play, Tyler Myers scored from the point off a pass from Matt Moulson to tie things up. Ottawa went on the power play under two minutes later, but was unable to capitalize on that man advantage.
Just over 12 minutes into the third, Milan Michalek gave Ottawa the lead again. Patrick Wiercioch let a shot go from the slot, and Enroth couldn't handle the rebound. Michalek capitalized, netting the rebound and putting Ottawa up 2-1.
Buffalo made things interesting towards the end. Robin Lehner had to make some big saves, including a great scoring chance by Girgensons, but was able to keep Ottawa in the lead. With just over two minutes left in the game, Marc Methot took a tripping penalty, and the Sabres pulled their goalie, giving them a two-man advantage. Ottawa would miss a few empty nets, but ultimately hold on for the win, ending their three-game losing streak with a win in Buffalo.
Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
While he wasn't too busy in the first period, Lehner had a very busy second period when Buffalo took control of the game. He made a total of 21 saves in the second period alone, and was the only reason Buffalo didn't run away with this game. In the third, he made some huge saves and didn't allow the Sabres to score with two extra attackers in the final minutes of the game. He made a total of 35 saves, and finished with a .972 SV%. He needed this win, and he deserves hero status tonight.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
Michalek's eighth goal of the season was also tonight's game winner. He saved a goal in the second period, pulling the puck away from the goal line after it slid past Lehner off a shot from Moulson. He played a key role in keeping Ottawa in the game, and was obviously a big part of this win.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
He scored Ottawa's first goal, played over 25 minutes and was involved in multiple odd-man rushes for Ottawa tonight. Despite the Sens not being able to capitalize on the many odd-man rushes that Buffalo afforded them, Karlsson drove a lot of the offence in this game, and deserves a hero title.
Sens Killer: The Second Period
The difference between the first and second periods was monumental. After outshooting Buffalo 14-8 in the first, Ottawa fell apart in the second. They allowed 21 shots in the second period alone, while only managing four shots themselves. Buffalo controlled the play throughout this portion of the game. If it weren't for the solid play of Robin Lehner, this game would have ended very differently.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick: