In snowy Buffalo, it was the Battle of the Disappointments as these two teams with formerly high hopes looked to scrape out a rare two points against a divisional rival.
Ahead of the game, we learned Josh Norris would be missing from the lineup which seems to have encouraged Head Coach Jacques Martin to put his lines into the blender big time, notably seeing Ridly Greig centre Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux while Parker Kelly was looking at some time on Tim Stützle's wing.
With some back and forth to begin, it took almost half a period for somebody to break the ice, with JJ Peterka getting the Sabres on the board. About five minutes later, Vladimir Tarasenko's shot had eyes and found it's way into the back of the net to knot things at one.
Next, a scary situation arose as Anton Forsberg, who notably missed significant time with two knee injuries last season, stretched awkwardly and couldn't put any weight on his right leg.
Then, in typical Sens fashion, when the sky starts falling, it starts falling as an ice cold Joonas Korpisalo allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced, both courtesy of Tage Thompson. Peyton Krebs would extend Buffalo's lead as the lone goal scorer of the second period. The Sens trailed by three with just 20 minutes left to do something, anything.
And then Claude Giroux tapped his back and said "hop on, fellas".
In the opening minute of the third, the veteran got to work with linemates Greig and Tkachuk to make this game 4-2.
With 8:45 left in the game, Giroux scored his second of the period and brought the team within one goal with plenty of time to do something about it.
With a minute left, and Ottawa's net empty, an Owen Power zone clearing rang off the post in what feels like one of the only lucky moments for the Senators all season. At the other end of the ice, the Senators struggled to gain and maintain possession of the puck, draining the majority of the final minute with little to know quality chances.
In the dying seconds, Jakob Chychrun fired a shot into traffic, only to then pass the puck to Stützle who lost the handle, sending Dylan Cozens in for the insurance marker with a few seconds left.
- Anton Forsberg left the game during the first period with what appears to be an injury to his right leg, as he couldn't put any weight on it while he was being helped off the ice. Given his history, it's likely we see Forsberg miss semi-significant time at the least.
- Neither goaltender was able to clear a .900 save percentage tonight.
- Claude Giroux was not leaving the ice with anything in the tank tonight, almost single handedly making a hockey game out of this one.
- A player who should get almost as much credit? Ridly Greig. In both of Giroux's third period tallies, Greig won a battle and made a great play, making Giroux's goal possible. Greig was maybe the best player on the ice in my eyes tonight.
- I, like many, was a bit confused by Parker Kelly's apparent elevation to a top six role but, honestly, I didn't mind his contributions to the line with Stützle and Drake Batherson all that much. I wouldn't keep them together long term, but I didn't mind what Kelly contributed to that trio.
- While I liked Kelly's game, Ottawa's best players were some of their worst tonight including both of Kelly's linemates. It felt like both Batherson and Stützle were fighting the puck all night, as if it was bouncier when it got to them. The icing on the cake for a rough game from Stützle happened when he had the puck on his stick, down one, with 8 seconds left and it just... left his stick.
- For much of the game, the Sens were beating the Sabres heftily in shot attempts. The problem was, the Sabres were blocking virtually everything and I don't think that had as much to do with Buffalo as it did Ottawa. There were a lot of pucks thrown in the direction of the net that were never going to make it there from the moment they left the stick.