The Sabres try to snap a four-game losing streak versus the Senators on Wednesday when the Northeast Division rivals meet for the sixth time this season.
Buffalo (36-15-4) is opening a season-high six-game homestand that begins and ends with games against the Senators (30-21-3). The Sabres, who lead the East by four points over New Jersey, are 17-7-2 at HSBC Arena and going for their fourth straight win there, but they have dropped three of their last four at home versus Ottawa.
The Senators have won four in a row overall against the Sabres, outscoring them 17-7 and converting 39.1 percent (9 of 23) of their power-play opportunities. Ottawa has thwarted 20 of Buffalo’s 22 chances in that span.
“I expect they will play close to their top game. We’re comparable teams,” Senators coach Bryan Murray told the team’s official website. “The games have been real hard fought so far. We match fairly well.
“Our defense core and goaltender have to be good. We know guys like (Maxim) Afinogenov, (Chris) Drury, and guys of that nature are deadly if they’re not.”
Ray Emery has been good versus the Sabres this season, going 4-0-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average. He is 8-1-1 with a 2.53 GAA in 10 career starts versus them—and the eight victories are three more than he has against any opponent.
Emery will try to continue that success Wednesday and tie his career high in wins with 23. He failed to hit that mark Saturday, when the Senators lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After trailing by two goals, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Comrie scored third-period goals to salvage a point for Ottawa. Defenseman Joe Corvo, who assisted on Comrie’s game-tying goal, is now going for his 100th career point.
“I thought we did a good job, being down 2-0 and not letting it get to us,” Emery said. “We kept putting pressure on and did a good job to get back in the hockey game and had chances to win, so you can take something from it, but it’s always disappointing, losing to the Leafs, especially.”
The Sabres beat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday, winning for the fifth time in the last 12 games. Buffalo leading scorer Daniel Briere sparked the victory by scoring twice in regulation and in the shootout along with Ales Kotalik.
The Sabres were 3 for 5 on the power play and improved to 8-2 in shootouts.
“There wasn’t too much traffic, a lot less than we’ve seen in the past,” Briere said. “It was fast and exciting. We played with fire.”
The All-Star MVP has seven goals and eight assists in his last nine games, but doesn’t have a point in his last three meetings with Ottawa. Buffalo starter Ryan Miller made 27 saves Tuesday and didn’t allow a goal in the shootout, but he has lost five of his last six starts versus the Senators, posting a 3.53 GAA.
Backup Martin Biron, who is 5-2-0 in his last eight starts versus Ottawa, may get the nod Wednesday. But whichever netminder starts will have the challenge of slowing Senators leading scorer Dany Heatley.
He has five goals and seven assists versus the Sabres this season, highlighted by a hat trick and an assist in the second period of a 6-3 victory Jan. 3.
Senators right wing Patrick Eaves is questionable for this game with an ankle injury.