Things didn't get off to a great start for the Senators tonight. Andrew Hammond was back between the pipes, the Sens were finally home and playing the league-worst Sabres, and everyone would be getting hamburgers just for showing up. It should have been an excellent start. The Sabres, however, had designs on ruining Tim Murray's plans. Buffalo scored first, about seven minutes into the game on a weird sort of play. Bobby Ryan tipped the puck at centre ice. Unfortunately, it popped well over Erik Karlsson's head and landed in the slot between Marc Methot and Hammond. Before the pair could sort things out, Philip Varone had pushed it by Hammond to give the Sabres a one goal lead. Late in the period, Tyler Ennis added a second goal for the Sabres to stun the Sens. It was a sluggish start for the Sens, but on the whole it was a good period for the Sens, they had the run of play, but Anders Lindback made few good saves and kept the Sens off the board. Hammond looked human for the first time during this run and probably wants both goals back. Shots 12-7 in favour of the Sens.
The second got off to a much better start. The Sens pressured from the drop of the puck and Erik Karlsson got them on the board with a blast from the point that deflected off Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian just 26 seconds into the period. Bobby Ryan was a little worse for wear during the frame, twice taking high sticks to the face. Hammond looked better in the period, though he did have an odd moment where he went wandering and got caught far outside of his crease, but was bailed out by his teammates. Ottawa kept the pressure up for much of the period, but couldn't beat Lindback, who actually had a very good game. The Sabres still led after two, 2-1. Shots 12-9 in the second in favour of Ottawa.
Ottawa had another quick start to the period in the third. At the 1:34 mark Mika Zibanejad squared things at two. But the credit needs to be shared with Bobby Ryan who had an excellent assist to set things up. The Sens continued to pressure and just a minute and a half later, Marc Methot walked into the Sabres zone, went around the net, and tried a wraparound. Denied by Lindback, Mark Stone was on the doorstep and slotted the rebound home. Despite having the majority of the play for the rest of the period and a chance with the empty net, the Sens couldn't add another. With Buffalo unable to match, it didn't matter. Ottawa wins 3-2, shots 37-26 in favour of Ottawa.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Another night with the captain in fine form. He opened the scoring, looking dangerous all night, including some nice rushes, and made several nice defensive plays. He led the team with 6 shots and 4 blocks. It's just what we've come to expect from him.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
Two points on the night for Stone, including the game winner. While Marc Methot earned his assist on Stone's goal, Stone sent Methot into the zone with a nice feed then drove the net hard to make it happen.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, and Mika Zibanejad
This line was at it again. They scored the equalizer and looked dangerous for most of the night, especially in the second period. Instrumental in Ottawa taking over the game.
Sens Killer: Anders Lindback
In the middle of a dreadful season, the Sabres goalie was good tonight, making 34 out of 37 saves. Almost made this a different outcome. Almost.
Shot chart via ESPN:
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick:
Highlights via NHL.com: