The Buffalo Sabres have said they don't want to use injuries as an excuse for their struggles, but with their list of unavailable players growing longer, it's becoming hard not to.
The injury-riddled Sabres will have to make do without defenseman Christian Ehrhoff when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Buffalo (17-17-3) began December with 27 points and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but has gone 4-7-2 to fall to 11th.
Ehrhoff became the latest added to the Sabres' lengthy injury list after he left Friday's 3-1 loss at Washington with an undisclosed injury following a first-period fight. Ehrhoff, signed to a 10-year, $40 million contract in the offseason, leads the team's defensemen with 17 points.
"He's going to miss some time ... probably weeks,'' said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.
The Sabres are already without six other players due to injuries. Besides Ehrhoff, Andrej Sekera (upper body), Colin Stuart (knee), Tyler Enis (ankle), Ville Leino (lower body), Corey Tropp (head) and Nathan Gerbe (concussion) have yet to return from injuries suffered in December.
The depleted roster has taken its toll on Buffalo, which had 26 shots in Friday's loss and created only one power-play opportunity. The Sabres have lost have five of their last six games, getting outscored 23-12 in that span.
While Buffalo has struggled - particularly on the road - it has played better at home, winning the last two and recording at least one point in five of its last six games there. The Sabres are 3-0-1 in their last four at home against the Senators.
Buffalo has lost twice to Ottawa (18-15-5) this month, including a 3-2 overtime defeat at home Dec. 13. A week later, the Senators lost 4-1 on the road.
Ottawa rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Calgary 4-3 in overtime Friday, as captain Daniel Alfredsson scored his 400th career goal for the game-winner. It was his fourth goal in seven games, giving him 11 points during that stretch.
"We're really happy for Alf,'' said center Jason Spezza, who was on the ice for the milestone. "To score his 400th goal is a huge milestone, and to do it in overtime, in a dramatic game - we were down three goals, at home, with his family here, I think we were all pretty happy for him and just excited as teammates.''
Craig Anderson has started all four previous games against the Sabres for the Senators, but he was called on for the final two periods Friday after Alex Auld gave up three goals on 15 shots.
Anderson stopped all 17 shots he faced against the Flames for his 16th win this season. However, he's struggled in Buffalo, going 2-3-0 with a 4.24 goals-against average while getting pulled in two of his last three visits.