BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Ottawa Senators know it will take some time to fill the void left by departed captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson helped them get off to the right start.
Karlsson ended a scoreless deadlock with 1:35 remaining and Anderson bested Buffalo's Ryan Miller in a thrilling goaltending duel to lead the Senators to a 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
"I think we've already moved on," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said of Alfredsson, the longtime captain who joined the Detroit Red Wings after 17 years in Ottawa. "I think having someone here for 17 years and has been the captain for the bulk of that time, you don't just replace something like that. It's going to take time for that.
"But the leadership group that we do have here that's been left over, they were all a part of it when Daniel was here, and they're going to put their own stamp on it."
Karlsson and Anderson did precisely that against the Sabres. Karlsson scored the winner by sliding a one-timer past Miller after receiving a pretty cross-ice pass from Clarke MacArthur. Karlsson also came up with a spectacular sliding stop on Buffalo's Thomas Vanek earlier in the third period to prevent a partial breakaway.
"He's our superstar," Anderson said of Karlsson. "We love him and you know what you're going to get every night. You know that he's going to bring a lot of offense, a lot of energy, and when he makes mistakes he's quick enough to come back and make that play like he did on Vanek where he got behind him. So it's that type of player that you need every night and he's definitely stepped up to the plate."
Karlsson gave Ottawa the victory, but the goalies stole the show. Miller and Anderson put on a clinic between the pipes, stopping a combined 79 shots before Karlsson found the back of the net.
Miller finished with 45 saves and Anderson had 35 saves in his first shutout of the year.
"When you watch the guy at the other end make big save after big save, it just gives you a little fire under your butt to kind of return the favor, and it's one of those battles where you enjoy to be in it but at the end of the day you like the win on the other side of it," Anderson said.
There was no shortage of opportunities in a fast-paced, free-flowing game that hardly represented the final score. The goaltenders were at their finest in the final two periods with highlight-reel saves coming on both ends of the ice.
Miller stepped up to thwart Patrick Wiercioch with just under seven minutes remaining. Anderson came back moments later by blocking a blistering slap shot from Vanek from point-blank range. Anderson also extended his arm to snare a Zemgus Girgensons lazer with 2:07 remaining.
Miller ended the second period with his finest save of the game. Miller robbed Jason Spezza, who unleashed a one-timer while wide open in the slot, with a quick glove save. Miller also had back-to-back saves on Spezza from up close with seven minutes remaining in the second period.
Miller also came up big on a partial breakaway with two minutes remaining in the second period when he held up strong against MacArthur, who was denied on his backhand attempt.
"He was outstanding," Vanek said. "That second period, it was back and forth and he played great for us all night. He gave us a chance to win. Both goalies played tremendous."
Anderson was also at his best. His most impressive stop came on Vanek with 2:28 left in the second period when Anderson slid from left to right before Vanek's shot hit him in the chest.
Vanek also had a golden opportunity three minutes into the third period on a partial breakaway, but the play was neatly broken up by Karlsson.
"I had some good looks," Vanek said. "There's not too many I can take back. ... I"ve got to bury one of those."
The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net, but coach Ron Rolston was not pleased with his team's overall performance.
"We didn't play a very good hockey game at the end of the day," Rolston said.
Both teams came flying out of the gates in a quick and entertaining start. The teams combined for 39 shots on goal in the first period, though neither was able to find the back of the net. The shots are the most by two teams in a scoreless NHL period since the expansion era (1967), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Ottawa outshot Buffalo 23-16 through the first 20 minutes.
NOTES: For the second game in a row, the Sabres dressed teenagers Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko and Rasmus Ristolainen. It's the first season since 1995-96 the Sabres have dressed three teenagers during the course of a season. ... Sabres forward Ville Leino missed the game and is out indefinitely after suffering a broken rib in the team's season opener against Detroit. ... Defensemen Jamie McBain and Cody McCormick were also scratched for the Sabres. ... Winger Matt Kassian and defenseman Joe Corvo were scratched for the Senators. ... The Senators won the season series against the Sabres 3-1 last year. Ottawa won the first three games against Buffalo, before the Sabres won the final meeting 4-2 on April 5.