Senators edge Sabres to secure two important points

Milan Michalek scored two goals — one of them a record-setter, one of them the winner with 20.9 seconds left in regulation — to give the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres that helped them keep pace in the wild Eastern Conference playoff race.

Senators edge Sabres to secure two important points
Ottawa Senators Jason Spezza tries to score against the Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ont., February 6, 2014. (Patrick Doyle / Ottawa Citizen)

Milan Michalek scored two goals — one of them a record-setter, one of them the winner with 20.9 seconds left in regulation — to give the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres that helped them keep pace in the wild Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Sabres roared back after falling behind 2-0 and almost took the game to overtime.
Tyler Ennis, at 10:25 of the third, and Drew Stafford, with 4:14 left in regulation, erased a 2-0 Ottawa lead.
But Michalek took a pass from Jason Spezza, beat Swedish Olympian Jhonas Enroth, and gave the Senators a much-needed win.
Erik Karlsson, with his 15th, also scored for Ottawa.
Michalek’s first goal, scored 10 seconds into the third and also set up by Spezza, broke the previous record for fastest goal to open a period (12 seconds) set by Spezza in a March 5, 2009, game against the Edmonton Oilers. The Senators went on to win that game 4-2.
Colin Greening also scored a quick one this season. He came close to the record in a Jan. 4 game in Montreal when he scored a goal in the first 13 seconds of a period.
However, that only tied him with Daniel Alfredsson, who had the record before Spezza broke it.
Craig Anderson faced 32 shots, while Enroth faced 36.
The best part of the first period was the announcement that there was just one minute to play in the frame. It couldn’t have ended too soon.
The Sabres, who played and lost 5-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, didn’t have a shot until there was 9:24 left in the period, and that only came about through an Ottawa turnover at the blue line.
Despite outshooting the Sabres 11-7, the Senators didn’t exactly distinguish themselves, either.
Their one power play didn’t yield what you’d call a decent chance, and about the only thing that scared Enroth a bit was a bit blast from just above the left circle from Jared Cowen.
The Senators broke the proverbial ice in the second period with Karlsson’s 15th goal, which tied him with Nashville’s Shea Weber for the lead among defencemen.
Stephane Da Costa put a lovely pass on Karlsson’s stick and No. 65 put it over Enroth’s left shoulder. It’s a good thing the Swedes have Henrik Lundqvist as their No. 1 in Sochi.
For Da Costa, it was his first assist of the season and kept him on a modest hot streak.
In his last five games, he’s had three goals, one assist, and one shootout goal – all of which can only help his case for staying.
Otherwise, it was mostly a period of missed opportunities.
The Senators couldn’t make anything of their two power-play chances and ended up 0-for-3 after two, while the Sabres couldn’t do anything on their two chances and ended up 0-for-4 after two.
Bobby Ryan also wasted an opportunity about four minutes in when he couldn’t bury a nice pass from Kyle Turris.

Twitter.com/allenpanzeri2

GAME FILE

WHY THEY WON

Because, just in time, Milan Michalek got his first multi-goal game of the season, scoring the winner with 20.9 seconds left in regulation.

CHEERS

Erik Karlsson got his 15th of the season with a lovely shot over fellow Swede Jhonas Enroth’s left shoulder. It was his 54th point in 58 games. If he continues at the same pace, he’ll finished with around 76 points, just below his personal best of 78 in 2011-12.

JEERS

The collective power plays of the teams were terrible. Buffalo was 0-for-7, the Senators were 0-for-3.

GREETING FROM BINGHAMTON

The Binghamton Senators, who host the Hamilton Bulldogs at CTC on Saturday night, were in the stands for Thursday’s game and several were interviewed between the period. The top moment came from defenceman Fredrik Claesson, who grabbed the microphone and did an exaggerated “Hellooo, Caanaadaa!”

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