Final SO

Series (Game 3 of 6)

Ottawa leads 5-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 21st
Game 2: Wednesday, December 16th
Game 3: Saturday, December 26th
Game 4: Wednesday, February 3rd
Game 5: Friday, March 26th
Game 6: Saturday, April 10th

Senators 3

(19-15-4, 42 pts)

Sabres 2

(22-11-4, 48 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 26, 2009

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 SO T
OTT 0 2 0 13
BUF 0 2 0 02

A. Kovalev (Senators - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

R. Shannon (Senators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

T. Vanek (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Senators-Sabres Preview


The Buffalo Sabres have ascended to the top of the Northeast Division this season, but they still haven't found a way to beat the Ottawa Senators.

The Sabres are hoping that a home matchup Saturday night with the short-handed Senators will give them a chance to end a six-game skid to their divisional rivals.

Behind the stellar play of goaltender Ryan Miller, Buffalo (22-11-3) has moved four points clear of Boston in the Northeast, but the Senators (18-15-4) continue to present problems for the Sabres, who have a pair of road defeats in this season's series, including a 2-0 loss on Dec. 16.

Ottawa also earned a 5-3 win on Nov. 21 against Sabres backup netminder Patrick Lalime, a former Senator.

Because of that showing, Miller will likely start Saturday, but he comes off one of his worst performances of the season, Wednesday night's 5-2 loss at Washington.

Miller, second in the league with a 1.99 goals-against average, gave up two scores in the first 6:47 en route to matching his season high for goals allowed.

Before that game, Miller had allowed more than two goals just two times since a 6-2 home loss to Florida on Nov. 18.

"They made some good plays. I think we gave them a little too much respect in the first period," he said. "We let them carry the puck in and go cross-box, passes for one-timers and they were beating us to every loose puck."

Miller has kept the Sabres competitive in his past three starts against the Senators, posting a 2.31 GAA, but his teammates have supplied him with three goals in those losses.

Buffalo's offense hasn't looked too inspired during a current 2-2-1 stretch, averaging 2.2 goals. The Sabres are also 0 for 20 on the power play in that time and 3 for 49 in the past 13 games.

However, they'll face an opponent that's coming off its worst defensive performances in two seasons and lost its top scorer in that defeat.

Ottawa allowed Pittsburgh to score five times in the second period in an 8-2 loss Wednesday, and it got even worse for the Senators after the game with the news that captain Daniel Alfredsson is expected to miss "a few weeks" with an injured left shoulder.

The veteran right winger had a team-leading two goals against the Sabres this season as well as 31 points and nine goals in 37 games.

"(Alfredsson's) a big loss," goaltender Pascal Leclaire said. "He's definitely our leader and a key player on our team ... but we have some good guys in here. We all have to step it up a little bit."

Leclaire returned from a fractured cheekbone in the loss to Pittsburgh and right winger Chris Neil played in his first game since a left knee injury. However, Senators forwards Jason Spezza, Nick Foligno and Shean Donovan remain out of the lineup.

Foligno (lower-body injury) and Donovan (right knee) aren't expected to return until early January. Spezza could remain out until after the Olympic break because of a torn ligament in his right knee.

Generating offense without Alfredsson and Spezza could be difficult after the duo combined for 56 goals and 147 points last season.

Since their previous win over Buffalo, the Senators are 1-3-0 and have scored more than two goals once over their last six, going 2-4-0.

Ottawa, however, is 17-4-2 against the Sabres since Nov. 15, 2006, and has won five of six in Buffalo.