The Ottawa Senators travel to Buffalo to face a well rested Sabres club, who have undergone a lot of changes since the last time they met.
TV: ROGERS SPORTSNET; RADIO: TEAM1200
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the third meeting of the season between the two divisional rivals. Ottawa won the previous two encounters, with Craig Anderson in net on both occasions. The Senators got out to a 4-1 lead in the first game and held on to win 4-3, while Anderson got the shutout in the second matchup, stopping 42 Sabres shots. After this game, they will meet one more time, again in Buffalo on April 5th.
The Senators are coming in off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Canadiens, in a game that saw Ottawa come from a 3-1 deficit to earn a much needed road point. Buffalo downed the Rangers 3-1 on Tuesday night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Bishop, OTT – Big Ben has watched Robin Lehner start the last 3 games after Bishop’s own subpar start where he allowed 5 goals on just 28 shots against Toronto on March 7th. It ended a string of 6 straight appearances allowing 2 goals or fewer. He needs to have a good start if he wants to get back into a regular rotation with Lehner until the return of Craig Anderson. A poor start could relegate him to the bench until further notice.
Ville Leino, BUF – Leino has been cleared to play Saturday, for his first NHL action since April 7th of last year. He has been out with a hip injury and has been close for a few days, but has finally got the green light. Leino had a very disappointing season in 2011-12, notching just 25 points in 71 games after signing a lucrative contract the summer of 2011. Not that Buffalo has much chance to get back in the playoff race, but Leino has a chance to get his game in gear.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR TODAY’S GAME
1. One Isn’t Enough, Part 1 – The Senators need to take 2 points in this game. Ottawa has done a good job of snagging singles here and there against top end teams on the road, but that won’t be acceptable against one of the lower ranked teams in the conference.
2. One Isn’t Enough, Part 2 – The Senators have played 10 straight games decided by 1 goal, with 6 of those 10 requiring more than 60 minutes (going 4-2-4). It would be nice to have this one decided in their favour by the midway point for once.
3. Kassian vs Scott Main Event? – John Scott wasn’t in the lineup the last time the Sabres met the Senators, probably because the Sens didn’t have a legit heavyweight. That was changed on Tuesday with the acquisition of Matt Kassian, who will likely get into the lineup and will want to make a good first impression, possibly on the face of the gigantic Scott.
This is the first time the Senators and Sabres have squared off since the firing of longtime Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. The Sabres have gone 4-4-2 under interim Head Coach Ron Rolston, a better pace than they were on, but nowhere near enough to dig out of the hole they were in. I would expect that the changes are not finished in Buffalo, and Darcy Regeir could be the next one out, after the Sabres fail to make the playoffs despite the 9th highest payroll in the league.