Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres Preview

First Niagara Center
Buffalo, NY
MON 12/15/2014
7:00 PM (MSG-B, BELL 

Teams                     GF                    GA                    PP                           PK        
Senators            2.52 (20th)       2.72 (18th)       20% (14th)            82% (12th)
Sabres               1.73 (30th)       3.00 (25th)       7% (30th)              78% (22nd)

Top Scorers

Player (Team)         GP-G-A-PTS
Ennis, T (Buf)            30-8-13-21
Karlsson, E (Ott)        29-7-13-20
Ryan, B (Ott)             26-6-12-18
Turris, K (Ott)            29-4-14-18
Girgensons, Z (Buf)    30-9-7-17    

Goaltenders

Ottawa       GP-W-L-0 GA SA   GAA   SV%      Buffalo    GP-W-L-O  GA  SA  GAA   SV%
Anderson       18-6-8-4   47  628  2.58  .925          Enroth     20-9-10-1    58  704  2.91  .918
Lehner          11-6-4-1   31  367  2.76  .916          Neuvirth   11-3-6-1     30   376  2.87  .920  

                
Buffalo- This is the first of five meetings between division rivals this season. Both teams are coming off of big wins Saturday evening. Buffalo defeated the Florida Panthers at home 4-3 in OT while the Sens won on the road over the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shoot-out. For Buffalo it was their third win in a row and ninth of their last twelve. 

The Senators made a huge change behind the bench last Monday night firing Paul Maclean after three and a third seasons worth of work. Replacement Dave Cameron earned his first victory Saturday after the visiting LA Kings spoiled his debut last Wednesday. Cameron had been an assistant since the 2011-12 season, prior too he had head coaching stints with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL and the Binghamton Senators of the AHL.

Heading into Monday night’s game Buffalo and Ottawa are separated by three points at the bottom of the Atlantic division standings (Ottawa in 7th Place). The Sens are (3-6-1) in their last ten games played while Buffalo has gone (7-3-0) in the same stretch. While both teams are heading in different directions as of late, playoffs chances for either are still miles away.

Chris Neil suffered a knee injury last Wednesday during the loss to the Kings. He could be sidelined for weeks. He was the recipient of former Sabres defenseman Brayden McNabb’s hard hit along the boards during the first period. “I saw him coming. It wasn’t dirty or anything. It was a good play by him. It’s a hockey play and it happens all the time” said Neil of the play. He has been the heart and soul of the Senators for thirteen seasons. His toughness will be missed.

Former Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur leads Ottawa with nine goals. 2012 Norris Trophy winner and team captain Erik Karlsson leads the team in points (7-13-20). He also leads the team in TOI (27:43) good for third overall in the NHL, and more than two full minutes over Buffalo’s Tyler Myers (25:27).

Similar to the Sabres the Sens have been tough to beat thanks to great goaltending. Although Win/Loss records would say otherwise, save percentages don’t. All four are in the Top 20 standings for save percentages. Robin Lehner and Jhonas Enroth picked up wins Saturday and could be back in net tonight. The Swedish born goaltenders played back up to Henrik Lundqvist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics where they won silver medals. There is plenty of respect between net-minders. 

“He’s a big goalie that moves very well, he’s going to be good for them” Enroth said of Lehner last season prior to the Olympics.

Cody Hodgson responded well in Saturday night’s win over Florida. The Sabres forward was a healthy scratch a game earlier and scored the opening goal just two minutes into the first period. It was his first since Oct. 25th.  The Sabres blew a two goal lead, giving up three straight goals before Brian Gionta notched the equalizer. Nikita Zadorov who was having a difficult night along with defense partner Rasmus Ristolainen went onto score the OT winner for Buffalo.

Andrej Meszaros and Josh Gorges left the game with injuries and are expected to miss some time. Gorges suffered a lower body injury blocking a shot while Meszaros took a puck to the face from Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

The Sabres will leave for Winnipeg after tonight’s game where they play the Jets Tuesday.

Along the Boards

-Dave Cameron became the Sens 10th head coach last Monday

-The NHL’s Holiday roster freeze goes into effect this Friday 12/19/14 at midnight through Saturday December 27, 2014. 

-12/24-12/26 - Holiday Break (no scheduled practices – dressing rooms closed)

-The IIHF World Junior Championships (Montreal, Que & Toronto, Ont) begins 12/26/14 and runs through 1/5/2015. Look for our preview Sunday 12/21/14.

-The Buffalo Sabres continue their winter clothing drive through the end of December. Fans attending the games Monday and Saturday (12/20 vs Colorado) are encouraged to bring new or gently used winter clothing apparel that can be used for donation to benefit the Buffalo City Mission. BCM workers will be accepting these goods upon entering the First Niagara Center.

Fans who donate items will receive a coupon for discounted tickets to select games and 25 Fan Advantage points. Cash donations will also be accepted

Follow Frank Wolf on twitter for in-game updates @wolf3328