Girgensons rewarded as Sabres edge Senators
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons continues to impress with his work ethic and attitude on the ice. The 19-year-old center was rewarded for those efforts Tuesday night when he led the Sabres to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Girgensons scored Buffalo's only goal in regulation and also scored the clincher in the 10th round of the shootout.
"He's getting rewarded for his work," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "He's always worked and good things happen when you do that."
Girgensons ended a back-and-forth shootout that was tied at three goals apiece with a smooth backhand deke, tucking the puck between Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner's left pad and the right post. He also tied the game at 1 in the second period.
"He's been quite good for us all season long," Buffalo defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. "It's nice to see him get rewarded for his work and he scored a great goal last game in Montreal and tonight just working effort that he got rewarded with a bounce and that's what we need."
Ottawa's 10th shooter, right winger Erik Condra, saw his wrist shot stopped by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. Miller made 35 saves in regulation and several key stops during overtime.
Buffalo (7-22-2) ended a three-game losing streak.
"Winning's important. More importantly is how you compete and how you work," Nolan said. "We're starting to work and compete a little bit. The fans seemed to enjoy the game a little bit."
Left winger Milan Michalek scored in regulation for the Senators (12-14-6). Lehner made 35 saves.
"We came on the road and we got a point, which is good," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We're still gaining some traction in our game and a lot of things went good for us. I thought we played well, we had some good pace to the game."
The Senators opened the scoring 6:25 into the game on a well-executed two-on-one rush. Left winger Cory Conacher found Michalek streaking toward the net, and Michalek made no mistake by firing the puck past Miller for his fifth goal of the season.
Buffalo tied the game at 1 with just under seven minutes left in the second period after a poor play by Lehner. Following a harmless wrist shot by defenseman Henrik Tallinder, Girgensons out-hustled Ottawa defenseman Joe Corvo and slapped the puck toward the net from a difficult angle. It went between the legs of the Ottawa goalie, who was standing in front of the net. It was Girgensons' third goal of the year.
The Sabres thought they had a 2-1 lead with 4:30 left in the second period, but the referees ruled it was no goal after a lengthy discussion. Buffalo defenseman Jamie McBain's backhand attempt landed in the Ottawa crease, and the puck was accidentally tipped into the net by Ottawa captain Jason Spezza. The on-ice officials convened at center ice, and the play was eventually reviewed by the NHL, which confirmed the decision. The NHL said in an email that the play was stopped due to a delayed penalty on Spezza.
Nolan was pleased with his team's response following the turn of events.
"That was probably the best part of the game," Nolan said. "It was pretty devastating when they called back the goal. You could tell they were a little bit devastated. But they overcame it, they forgot about it and they moved on. To get a win like that is an emotional win for us."
Miller hopes the Sabres can learn from that experience. Buffalo struggled to string momentum together throughout what has been a struggling campaign.
"Hopefully, guys can remember that something really didn't go our way and we were able to win still, and that can be a positive," Miller said. "Because too many times this year it's negative things happen, 'Oh, here we go again.' Tonight was where something big could've happened for us, we could've gotten the lead there, and it didn't happen and we had to find a way."
Both teams generated their share of quality chances. Buffalo and Ottawa each registered 36 shots on net.
The two teams will meet again on Thursday in Ottawa.
NOTES: D Eric Gryba and C Mike Hoffman were scratched for Ottawa. ... D Mike Weber and LW Ville Leino were scratched for Buffalo. Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said earlier Tuesday that he wasn't pleased with Leino's performance in practice on Monday. Leino responded by telling members of the media that he "wasn't sure" what Nolan wants from him. ... This was the second of five meetings between the Sabres and Senators this season. Ottawa won the first meeting between the two clubs, 1-0, in Buffalo on Oct. 4. ... This was the 118th game all-time between Buffalo and Ottawa.