Sabres at Senators
Thomas Vanek has been on fire in the early going and has nine points in the last three games for the Buffalo Sabres. Vanek will be trying to keep up that pace against one of the better defensive teams in the Eastern Conference when the Sabres visit the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Vanek’s scoring binge has been fun to watch, but has not resulted in many wins, with Buffalo dropping its last two games.
The Senators are riding the hottest goaltender in the league in Craig Anderson, who is pacing the NHL with a 1.12 goals against average and a .964 save percentage. Ottawa has totaled one goal of its own in back-to-back losses, however. The Sabres have had the opposite problem. While Vanek, Jason Pominville and the offense have flourished, the blue line has the team ranked in the bottom third of the NHL in goals allowed.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), RSN East (Ottawa)
ABOUT THE SABRES (3-5-1): Vanek was named the NHL’s first star after putting up 10 points in four games last week, including a five-point performance in a 7-4 victory at the Boston Bruins. But while Vanek was able to total four points in the two subsequent contests, the rest of the team struggled. Ryan Miller had to be pulled during a 6-1 loss at Montreal on Saturday, and Buffalo squandered a 3-1 lead in a 4-3 home loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Overall, the Sabres have allowed 30 goals while going 1-5-1 over their last seven games. Miller, who has started all but one game, has taken the brunt of the punishment with four goals allowed in each of his last four starts.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (5-3-1): Anderson has been on the other end of the goaltending spectrum in the East, allowing two or fewer tallies in each of his eight starts, despite facing more than 30 shots in all but two of those outings. Anderson has helped Ottawa kill 90 percent of its penalties as well. But after totaling eight goals in back-to-back home wins, the Senators went on the road and struggled to find the net in losses at Carolina and Montreal. They have averaged 3.3 goals in their four home games while putting up 2.4 in five on the road. Top scorers Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson totaled one point on the road trip. Jason Spezza, who is out indefinitely with a herniated disc, has left a big hole at the front of Ottawa’s offense.
1. The Senators hope to have D Sergei Gonchar and LW Guillaume Latendresse (flu) back on Tuesday. Both were out Sunday.
2. Buffalo D Andrej Sekera (lower body) missed Sunday’s game and is questionable for Tuesday.
3. Vanek has recorded 35 points (19 goals) in 46 career games against Ottawa.