By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer
Buffalo (15-32-8) at Ottawa (25-21-11), 7:30 p.m. EDT
The Ottawa Senators have two players headed to the Olympics, but Kyle Turris isn’t one of them.
Turris looks to continue his impressive scoring stretch and help the Senators to another victory against the league-worst Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Star defenseman Erik Karlsson will be part of Team Sweden in Sochi and left wing Milan Michalek is on the Czech Republic’s Olympic roster.
Turris may not be on Canada’s team, but he’s certainly proving to be valuable for Ottawa (25-21-11).
He ranks second on the team with career highs of 19 goals and 43 points, while his plus-18 rating leads the Senators. He’s scored 12 of those goals - including three game-winners - during an 11-4-5 stretch.
Turris came up big again Tuesday, scoring the equalizer in a three-goal third period before netting the decisive tally in the shootout of a 5-4 victory at St. Louis. That performance helped Ottawa become the first Eastern Conference team this season to leave St. Louis with a point.
“To have the type of response we had in the third, to tie it up, to get the two points in a tough building against a very good team is huge,” Turris said.
He has 10 points in his last 10 meetings with the Sabres (15-33-8), including assists on goals by Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith in a 2-1 home victory Dec. 12.
Karlsson was held without a point in that meeting, after tallying five goals and one assist in his previous four at home.
The Senators are 8-1-2 in their last 11 meetings with Buffalo, including 4-0-1 at home.
Craig Anderson has played a big part in that success, winning seven straight starts against the Sabres with a 1.27 goals-against average. He made 40 saves opposite Ryan Miller in the December win.
Anderson could get the call after Robin Lehner stopped 46 shots in Tuesday’s victory.
It’s unclear if Miller will start on back-to-back nights after he had 29 saves in a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. This would be Miller’s last chance to make a case to be the United States’ starting goalie at the Olympics since this is Buffalo’s final contest before the break.
Miller has allowed five goals in each of his last two starts, losing both.
“That had nothing to do with Ryan,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “It was the guys in front of him. Our team, we need everyone. We had a couple of guys no-show.”
Miller has lost three of his last four starts in Ottawa despite a 2.47 GAA, while backup Jhonas Enroth is 3-1-1 with a 2.52 GAA in five career meetings.
Enroth, who will be teammates with Karlsson in Sochi, is 0-9-4 with a 3.07 GAA in 15 games since his only win at Florida on Oct. 25.
Drew Stafford has scored in back-to-back games after missing four with an upper-body injury. The right wing has only two goals in 18 career games at Ottawa, and none in 11 straight.
The Senators visit Boston on Saturday before the extended layoff.