The Evander Kane-less Buffalo Sabres were a tough matchup for the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre, but their efforts ultimately came up short, falling to the Senators 2-1 in a shootout.
Matt Moulson ended his 45 game goalless streak early on in the first period, opening the scoring just 6:01 into the frame. Jack Eichel connected with Moulson on a beautiful no-look pass in front of the net, and Moulson knew exactly what to do, backhanding the puck past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson to score his fifth of the season. Eichel’s assist on the play, the 22nd of his young career, extends his point streak to three games.
The Sabres wouldn’t keep the lead for long, however, as Senators rookie Ryan Dzingel would tie the game with the first goal of his career roughly one minute after Moulson put Buffalo in front. Sabres goalie Robin Lehner was unable to corral the puck in front of him following a blocked Patrick Wiercioch pass, allowing Dzingel to shoot the puck through Marcus Foligno’s legs and into the back of the net, tying the game at one a piece.
Although the Sabres would outshoot the Senators by six shots throughout the last two periods of play, the game would be tied at one at the end of regulation. Like the final two periods of the game, the overtime period would go scoreless, with the highlight being a gorgeous glove save by Robin Lehner on reigning Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Buffalo put up a strong fight throughout regulation and the overtime period, but they did not perform well in the shootout. Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson were the shooters for the Sabres, with neither player being able to put the puck past Anderson. Both Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris were able to score on their former teammate during the shootout, giving the Senators the 2-1 victory.
Although Robin Lehner played well against his former team, he was not the best goalie on the ice Tuesday night. Lehner was able to stop 25 of 26 Ottawa shots, but Craig Anderson stopped 38 out of Buffalo’s 39 shots, single-handedly shutting down Sabres’ scoring opportunities on multiple occasions. The Sabres weren’t able to get their offense going in any substantial way Tuesday night, which ultimately contributed to their loss.
The entire Sabres defensive core, led by Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, had a strong outing. Buffalo blocked 22 attempted Ottawa shots, with McCabe and Ristolainen leading the team with six and five blocked shots respectively. Ristolainen also led the team in time on ice and shots, having five shots on goal throughout nearly 30 minutes of ice time.
The Sabres and Senators will meet again on March 18th at the First Niagara Center, as the Sabres will look to even out the season series between the two teams. The next time Buffalo takes the ice will be this Friday night at the Nationwide Arena as the Sabres take on the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have won four out of their previous six games.