Senators survive Sabres for 2-1 win
... In regulation?!
As far as wins go, this one was pretty ugly.
For the second straight game, the Buffalo Sabres outshot the Ottawa Senators. For the second straight game, the Senators would score the game's first goal, only to have their goalie give one back. But this time, the Senators regained the lead and did not relinquish it. Maybe it was just fresher legs. Maybe it was just one less mistake. Maybe it was just better luck. Whatever it is, the Sens needed it tonight because they were largely outplayed.
Thinly-veiled Sens Hero Kyle Turris wins a puck and feeds Thinly-veiled Sens Hero Bobby Ryan, who gains the zone--a rarity for this game--but four Sabres defenders start to converge around him. Ryan tries to pass to a net-driving Cory Conacher, but the pass deflects... right to Turris, who's on the far wing. Everyone except Ryan turns to chase the puck, which is ill-advised, because Turris is going to get to it first anyway. He whips it back across the ice to a now-uncovered Ryan, and Ryan isn't going to miss many tip-ins on an open net.
1-1 Tie Game
On the power play, Tyler Ennis circles the net, and neither Chris Phillips nor Eric Gryba pick him up. Free shot in close, and Anderson just kind of whiffs on it. Whoops.
On the tail end of a power play, Ryan feeds Turris, who again sees someone on the other side of the ice staring at an open net. It's Zack Smith. All Turris has to do is get him the puck and it's a goal. The pass has to go through Ryan and the guy defending him, so it finally arrives at a trickle, but Z. Smith is able to roof it before Miller can get set.
And that's all you need to know for this one.
Z. Smith taketh away, Z Smith giveth: Buffalo's power play goal came with Z. Smith off in the box for high sticking. Z. Smith then restored the lead with what would be the game-winner. He's going to do whatever he wants on the ice, apparently.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Ryan was a beast out there, as he played a major factor in both Senators goals. Some nights you see Ryan backchecking hard. Tonight he was out there trying to make plays and keeping the puck on his stick. Both of his points came off of that kind of work. It was Ryan's ability to possess the puck that allowed Turris to get open both times.
Sens Hero: Kyle Turris
Two primary assists, near mirror-images of each other, for Turris tonight. He displayed some pretty great vision on both plays.
Honorable Mention: Craig Anderson
Not terribly thrilled with how he played the puck on the lone Buffalo goal, especially considering how many more difficult saves he'd make on the night, but all things considered, Anderson gave his team a chance to win this game. There were shades of last year's Anderson in this game, but you still didn't really get the sense that this game was in the bag until it was won. Last year, a 2-1 lead with Anderson in net would have been calming enough to put a cranky baby to sleep. Tonight, every big save tore away a little piece of your soul--but he still made the saves he needed to make.
Cody Ceci made his debut tonight. He played extremely confidently. Sure wouldn't mind seeing him in another game.
Sens Killer: The Defensive Zone
I don't know what it was tonight, but Ottawa could not only not break out of the zone, they couldn't even clear the zone. It's no coincidence that Buffalo managed 41 shots on goal in this one. They only had to keep their sticks on the ice while attacking and the puck would find them. If the team plays this way against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, they won't be able to win with both Anderson and Robin Lehner in net.
Sens Killer: Power Play
0-for-3. It's beating a dead horse at this point, but once again, the team left opportunities to make life easy on themselves got to waste. It's not a recipe for long-term success against better opponents.