Sabres-Senators Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)

The Ottawa Senators have gone to shootouts in three straight games - the last two on back-to-back nights - and only have four points to show for it.

They may want to avoid another tiebreaker against the Buffalo Sabres as the teams close out a home-and-home set at Ottawa on Thursday night.

The Senators (12-14-6) fell 2-1 to the Sabres on Tuesday, losing in a 10-round shootout after failing to capitalize on a disallowed Buffalo goal in the second period.

Milan Michalek broke a nine-game goal drought in the first for Ottawa, but rookie Zemgus Girgensons responded in the second - when Buffalo held an 18-9 shots advantage.

Ottawa, playing its third game in four nights, couldn't score again despite outshooting the Sabres 16-7 in the third period and overtime. Girgensons went on to score the winner in the shootout.

"We created things and we played fast and we played more like we want to play and we didn't put them in the net," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "But any time you come on the road and get a point, it's usually a pretty good trip so it could be a big point at the end of the year."

At 1-0-2 in its last three, MacLean's team has at least been consistently earning points after going 3-7-0 in the previous 10.

Despite its NHL-worst record of 7-22-2, Buffalo is 4-0 in shootouts - with Ryan Miller in net for all of those wins. Miller made 35 saves to help the Sabres snap a three-game skid while taking sole possession of first place with his 46th career shootout victory. He had been tied with the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist.

"He's always battling and he made some huge saves again," defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. "He's been great every game, so it's definitely a broken record."

Miller has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.31 goals-against average in his last three starts against Ottawa.

The 19-year-old Girgensons scored for the second straight game, giving him points in his last three. The Sabres hope the 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft can continue to help provide a boost, as they're by far the lowest-scoring team in the NHL with 53 goals.

"He's getting rewarded for his work," coach Ted Nolan said. "He's always worked and good things happen when you do that. It's a good reward for a kid who's worked so hard."

Robin Lehner turned in a strong game with 35 saves for Ottawa, which would like to take advantage of a lesser opponent Thursday before matchups with Western Conference powers Los Angeles and St. Louis close out its three-game homestand.

While Lehner could be back in net for this game, Craig Anderson has posted shutouts in his last two matchups with the Sabres, the most recent a 1-0 road victory Oct. 4 in which he stopped 35 shots. Anderson, though, struggled again his last time out, allowing four goals on 29 shots in a 5-4 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. He has a 3.40 GAA compared to 2.36 for Lehner.

The Senators have gone 7-1-2 in the past 10 games in this series and 3-0-4 in the last seven at home.

Ottawa will be without defenseman Jared Cowen, who was suspended two games Wednesday for a hit to Girgensons' head.