Fresh off a dominating effort versus the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Ottawa Senators get their first shot against Northeast Division rival Buffalo this season.
The Senators, though, will have to adjust their lineup Saturday night.
Ottawa looks for its fifth straight victory over the division-leading Sabres, who are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of 2009-10.
The Senators (10-6-3) won their second in a row Thursday with a 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh. Playing in his 800th NHL game, defenseman Chris Phillips(notes) scored two goals for the third time in his career, and first since November, 22, 2001, against Calgary.
“I’m not expected to (score), for sure,” said Phillips, the first overall pick by the Senators in the 1996 draft, who has 54 career goals. “It feels good to do it and it felt like one of those high energy games, for us anyways, and it’s nice.”
Kovalev, who has five assists in his last seven games, returned to Russia following Thursday’s win due to the death of his mother-in-law. He is not expected back until at least Monday.
Donovan will likely be out much longer after injuring his right knee against the Penguins.
“We should know by (Saturday) whether it’s real long term or (just) long term,” Senators coach Cory Clouston told the team’s official Web site.
“They should maybe be a little bit hungrier,” said Clouston. “Both of them have been talked to and they know what they have to do.”
Senators center Jason Spezza(notes) knows he has to score, but that hasn’t happened much in 2009-10. With just one goal this season after totaling 100 in the previous three campaigns, Spezza looks to snap a six-game drought without a point Saturday.
He had five goals and five assists as Ottawa went 5-1-0 against the Sabres in 2008-09.
Buffalo (12-5-2), trying to avoid its first three-game skid since March 17-21, looks to get back on track following Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss at home to Boston.
Center Paul Gaustad(notes) scored a power-play goal 4:20 into the game - his second tally in three games - but the Sabres lost their second straight after Bruins center Patrice Bergeron(notes) tipped in a shot past Ryan Miller(notes) 47 seconds into overtime.
“We got as many shots as we could,” Gaustad said after Buffalo outshot the Bruins 15-6 in the third but failed to score. “Some of them didn’t go in.”
Miller is 7-10-1 with a 2.99 goals-against average in 19 career starts against Ottawa.
The Sabres’ last victory over Ottawa was a 4-2 win in Buffalo on Jan. 6.