Sabres score shootout win to cut Senators’ hopes short

They got a point, some consolation. But the Ottawa Senators didn’t come home with what they were looking for: a second consecutive victory.

Marcus Foligno #82 of the Buffalo Sabres and Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators battle along the boards on December 10, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

BUFFALO – They got a point, some consolation. But the Ottawa Senators didn’t come home with what they were looking for: a second consecutive victory.

So they will have to keep looking for the start of a badly need run of victories after falling to the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout.

The Senators came in hopeful after Monday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers but couldn’t get past the struggling Sabres, the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Zemgus Girgensons, who also scored in regulation, Matt Moulson, Brian Flynn, and Steve Ott scored for the Sabres in the shootout, while Mika Zibanejad, Kyle Turris, and Milan Michalek scored for the Senators.

In regulation, Milan Michalek scored a first-period goal for the Senators, while Girgensons batted in a second-period bouncer to tie the game.
The Sabres also had a goal disallowed in the second period.

Lehner faced 36 shots while Ryan Miller also faced 36.

The Senators got out of the first period with a 1-0 lead but could have been ahead by three or four.

Bobby Ryan had two good chances. He just missed tucking one in around the right post, then got stopped by Miller after getting in a bit too tight. He also passed on a couple of good looks instead of shooting.

The Senators also hurt themselves with two miserably ineffective power plays.

The one goal, however, was lovely: a two-on-one with Cory Conacher threading a pass through to Michalek, who had most of an open net to work with. Miller didn’t have a chance.

The goal was welcome relief for Michalek. It was his first in nine games, since Nov. 20 against Minnesota, and only his fifth of the season.
During the first-period intermission, Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray mused that if his team had gone ahead 2-0 or 3-0, it might have broken Buffalo’s spirit. But the Sabres survived the first behind only 1-0 and had a reason to play. That would make them dangerous.

He was, of course, right.

The Sabres took it to the Senators in the second, and only the good work of Lehner – especially during a hooking penalty to Erik Karlsson – saved them. For a time, anyway.

But Lehner’s luck would turn sour at 13:15 when, from the left circle, Girgensons would bat at a loose puck just as Joe Corvo was reaching for it.
It went straight across at Lehner, bounced off his pads, and went in through his legs, an embarrassing misplay.

His luck almost went from bad to worse two minutes later when the Sabres apparently jammed another past him from a massive scrum in front.
But referee Tom Kowal, who was not in a good position to see the puck, waved it off, saying that a delayed high-sticking penalty had been called on Jason Spezza and the Senators had touched the puck (actually knocking it in the net, as replays showed).

The situation room in Toronto later confirmed this was the reason for the disallowed goal, but not until fans were treated to the unintentional comedy of referee Justin St. Pierre disallowing it after the first review, before reversing himself and ordering another review after getting an earful from Buffalo coach Ted Nolan.

There shouldn’t have been a review in the first place, as the situation room pointed out. Delayed penalty calls are not reviewable.

GAME FILE

WHY THEY LOST

They got goaltending that was good enough from Robin Lehner but the Sabres got another strong game from Ryan Miller and prevailed in the 10-round shootout.

CHEERS

Ryan Miller: Has a terrible record and even worse stats, but the question is: Where would the Sabres be without him? Not even close, is where. Still a good Olympic bet for Team USA.

JEERS

Referees Tom Kowal and Justin St. Pierre botched Buffalo’s disallowed goal in the second period. Kowal wasn’t in a good position to see the puck as it was scrummed in front of Lehner, and St. Pierre comically ordered up a second review after getting an earful from Buffalo coach Ted Nolan.

HOME AND HOME CONTINUES

The teams will meet again on Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre to complete a home-and-home series. The Senators have had the recent edge. They’ve won five of six in Buffalo and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games against the Sabres.

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