Senators edge Sabres in shootout
OTTAWA — Trying to claw their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Ottawa Senators put their fate in good hands Tuesday night.
The good hands that belong to Bobby Ryan.
The Senators winger scored his league-leading sixth shootout goal in eight tries to give his team all it would need in a 2-1 decision over the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre.
The victory halted the Senators losing streak at three games and moved them to within six points of the second wild card spot.
“Every win we get from here on out is going to have to be a rallying point for us, or whatever it might be,” said Ryan. “The fact that we have to scoreboard watch at this time makes it a little tougher. But if we take care of home ice, find a way to win some games on the road, we’re never out of it.”
Center Kyle Turris also scored in the shootout while goalie Craig Anderson shut the door on Sabres center Jack Eichel and winger Matt Moulson.
The Sabres have not scored in their last 14 shootout chances and having only scored twice on 21 shootout attempts in the tie-breaking process this season.
“We played great and we did a lot of really good things,” said Eichel after Buffalo outshot Ottawa 39-26 while having its winning streak stopped at two games. “I think this one falls on me. I have a breakaway in overtime and if I want to be the player I want to be, that’s got to go in the back of the net.
“I get a chance in the shootout and not being able to finish there, I mean that’s real disappointing. I’ve got to start to figure something out here.”
Senators goalie Craig Anderson gave up a first period goal to Matt Moulson, which stopped a 44-game scoring drought for the Sabres winger.
“It’s great to see him get rewarded,” said Eichel, who set up Moulson’s first since Nov. 1. “I was just happy he scored. He’s been in a little bit of a slump and it seems like everybody is jumping on him and giving him a hard time. People got through things like this. He’s been doing a lot of great things.”
Beating Sabres goalie Robin Lehner just 69 seconds later for his first NHL goal was Senators winger Ryan Dzingel, who was promoted to the first line alongside Ryan and center Mika Zibanejad.
“It was pretty cool,” said Dzingel, who plans on giving the puck to his father Rick, a former baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. “I told a few guys I felt I had some good scoring opportunities and I was hoping it would come.
“I knew I was going to play (tonight) with Mika and Bobby and obviously those guys are good hockey players. I knew I’d have my chances. It was sweet going in.”
The Sabres outshot the Senators 4-2 in an overtime that, along with the Anderson breakaway save off Eichel in the last minute, saw Lehner make a great glove grab off Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
“I don’t think you wholesale the farm to avoid getting to a shootout,” said Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, whose team won just one of six games that make it to the tie-breaking skills contest. “We’re trying to win it in overtime. We’re pressing to get goals not because of the shootout situation, but because we want to win the hockey game.”
After giving up the first goal for the 39th time in 58 games, Senators coach Dave Cameron was simply satisfied with the outcome.
“I like the fact we were able to get two points, and that’s what’s good this time of year,” said Cameron. “I didn’t think we had our ‘A’ game, no excuses but we had some guys with the flu, some guys that we weren’t sure were going to play, and they came in and found a way to get two points. That’s huge. They battled and stayed with it.”
The Senators (26-26-5) play their next game Thursday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Sabres (23-28-7) are in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets on Friday.
NOTES: Sabres LW Evander Kane was serving a one-game suspension imposed by the team because he slept in and missed Monday’s practice. Taking his roster spot was LW Johan Larsson, who has been scratched the previous four games. ... Sabres D Mike Weber and Sabres D Carlo Colaiacovo were healthy scratches. ... Senators C Nick Paul made his NHL debut, replacing LW Shane Prince, who has just three goals in 42 games. ... Senators D Mark Borowiecki missed his first game with what’s believed to be an upper body injury suffered in Columbus on Saturday.