The Sabres showed more fight than in their humiliating defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, but they still skated off the ice tonight with a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators inside of ScotiaBank Place.
Ottawa struck first after a largely uneventful opening 11 minutes. Ryan Miller foiled a Chris Neil breakaway, but the Sabres failed to keep up with Zack Smith, who stormed in and lifted the rebound into the net over a sprawling Miller.
Buffalo continued to show little vigor for another 20 minutes, and wasted their first three power play opportunities.
On their fourth, Jordan Leopold at last put them on the board at 13:13 of the second period. The American-born defensemen fired a harmless shot from the point which slipped past Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson and gave Leopold his sixth goal on the season.
Unfortunately, it was the only goal the Sabres would score on the night. Nearly eight minutes into the third period, Ottawa regained the lead on a goal strikingly similar to their first. A shot by Kyle Turris was stopped by Miller, but the rebound went wide and Erik Condra skated in to throw the puck into the open net before any Sabre even made an attempt to cover him.
The Sabres had their fair share of scoring opportunities from there, but with only 3:05 remaining in the game, Paul Gaustad took a rough penalty on Neil and put his team in a precarious situation.
Ottawa proved it to be costly. Daniel Alfredsson loosed a blistering slapshot from the point which went off Miller, and the Senator’s captain Jason Spezza passed the rebound through the crease to a wide-open Erik Karlsson who stabbed it into the net for his third goal of the year.
Only 25 seconds later, Ottawa sealed the deal. After the Senators won a battle along the boards, Condra effortlessly wired the puck into the empty net for his second goal on the night to secure Ottawa a 4-1 victory, as well as being named first star of the game.
There were a few bright spots. Rochester call-ups Marcus Foligno and Derek Whitmore both put on impressive showings for their first ever NHL contest. The two rookies combined for three shots on goal, four hits and an even +/-. Miller also looked much sharper than he did against Pittsburgh over the weekend, stopping 35 of 38 Ottawa shots on way to being deemed the third star of the game. As it was, the goals he let in were largely due to Sabres’ turnovers and his teammates’ failure to cover Ottawa forwards as they crashed the net.
But the loss remains a new low for the Sabres this season. For the first times this year, they have fallen out of a playoff position and have a record under .500. Subsequently, the two points have propelled Ottawa past Buffalo in the standings and into the Top 8 of the Eastern Conference.
The Sabres will return to action Thursday night inTorontoto take on the Maple Leafs for their second meeting on the season. Puck drop is scheduled to take place at 7:00 EST inside Air Canada Centre.