Turris chips in to secure Senators’ win

Newcomer Kyle Turris put some late spark into a sleepy game Tuesday, setting up Erik Condra for the game winning goal in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Turris chips in to secure Senators’ win
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Fittingly, Erik Condra was biggest star on a night when the Ottawa Senators won with smart, basic plays, rather than spectacular ones.

Condra, often unnoticed for his play as a sound defensive winger, scored twice in the third period to lead the Senators to a 4-1 win Tuesday over the injury-riddled Buffalo Sabres.

Condra broke a 1-1 deadlock, on a set-up from newcomer Kyle Turris, at the 7:59 mark of the third. After Erik Karlsson provided a late insurance goal on the power play, Condra iced the game, scoring into an empty net with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller on the bench for an extra skater.

“It feels really good,” said Condra. “I was able to provide some offence tonight, as well as some defence that led to offensive chances.”

On the game winning goal, Condra went hard to the net, flipping the puck into an empty net after Miller stopped the original shot from Turris.

“Erik has been a real steady player for us,” coach Paul MacLean said of Condra, who now has six goals and six assists and leads the team with a plus/minus rating of plus 8. “That’s the kind of consistent play we want from everyone.”

By and large, MacLean did receive a solid, all-around effort throughout the lineup for one of the few times this season. The Senators outshot the Sabres 39-23 and after a second period letdown that allowed the Sabres to tie the game 1-1, the Senators rebounded to dominate the third period, outshooting the visitors 16-7.

It was no coincidence that the improved defensive play came with veteran defencemen Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba back in the lineup following injuries. While the Senators have been guilty of giving up countless odd man rushes in most games this season, Senators goaltender Craig Anderson had a relatively easy night.

“We played together as a team tonight and got rewarded for it,” said Anderson. “We had the puck a whole lot more than them and we didn’t change our game plan when it was 1-1 game. We had some big key additions with Gonchar and Kuba back. The more you have a veteran presence, the fewer mistakes are going to be made. Overall, we did a great job. We didn’t give up too many second opportunities.”

While Gonchar and Kuba returned, the Senators suffered another injury.

Jesse Winchester was gone by the three minute mark after being hit hard against the end glass following a hit by the Sabres’ Paul Gaustad. He stood up on wobbly legs and was helped off the ice by trainers. Following the game, MacLean said that Winchester was “concussed”.

There was no penalty on the play, but MacLean called it a “dangerous” hit. NHL discipline chief Brendan Shanahan will certainly review the hit Wednesday.

“I had an opportunity to look at the replay,” MacLean said. “It certainly looked like a penalty to me.”

Zack Smith opened the scoring for the Senators, flipping the puck over Miller after the Sabres goaltender had stopped Chris Neil on a breakaway at the 11:48 mark of the first period. Jordan Leopold tied the game on a power play with 6:48 left in the second, slipping the puck between Anderson’s legs.

The contest was no artistic masterpiece; for long periods, it was a sleepy chess match, bringing back memories of the tight defensive battles between the teams in years past.

With the win, the Senators have jumped past the Sabres in both the Eastern Conference and Northeast Division standings, which seemed impossible after Buffalo began the year with a 10-5 record.

MacLean, however, isn’t getting too carried away with where the Senators are in the standings.

“We could go to bed tonight in one place and wake up tomorrow four places lower,” he said of the logjam in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings.

GAME FILE

Why they won: The Senators stuck with the game plan and once again, their patience paid off. The three goal third period featured a pair of goals by Erik Condra and another by Erik Karlsson, with newcomer Kyle Turris help setting up the game winner.

Stud: Erik Condra, Senators. Condra is rarely flashy, but he’s often in the right place at the right time. On his game winning goal Tuesday, he did a whole bunch of little things right before pushing the puck into the net, converting a pass from Kyle Turris.

Dud: Paul Gaustad, Sabres. Gaustad took a dopey late penalty, hurting any chances of a late Sabres comeback. Only seconds into the power play, Erik Karlsson snuck down from his point position and slid the puck into the net to provide the insurance.

REDDEN IN THE HOUSE: Former Senators defenceman Wade Redden was among the many people crammed into the Foligno box Tuesday night. Redden, who married one of the Foligno brothers’ cousins, is playing with the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League — the New York Rangers’ top affiliate — but is currently out with an injury.

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