Series (Game 4 of 6)

Ottawa leads 5-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 21st
Game 2: Wednesday, December 16th
Game 3: Saturday, December 26th
Game 4: Wednesday, February 3rd
Game 5: Friday, March 26th
Game 6: Saturday, April 10th

Senators 4

(32-21-4, 68 pts)

Sabres 2

(32-16-7, 71 pts)

Coverage: RDS

7:00 PM ET, February 3, 2010

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
OTT 0 1 34
BUF 0 0 22

J. Spezza (Senators - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

B. Elliott (Senators - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .944

T. Connolly (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Senators-Sabres Preview


The Ottawa Senators are focused on pulling away from a crowded cluster of Eastern Conference playoff contenders as they ride the longest winning streak in franchise history.

They may want to start looking in front of them, too.

Ottawa can further cut into Buffalo's Northeast Division lead as it tries to extend its winning streak to 10 with an eighth straight victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night.

Stingy defensive play has buoyed the Senators (31-21-4) during their run, which became a club record with a 3-2 overtime win over Montreal on Saturday night. Each of Ottawa's last nine opponents scored two or fewer goals, with the Senators allowing 10 during the streak.

Brian Elliott has compiled a 1.13 goals-against average in starting the last seven games, and he has had plenty of help from a healthier group in front of him.

Jason Spezza has a goal in four straight games since returning from a knee injury, while Daniel Alfredsson has 11 points in eight games since coming back from a shoulder problem.

"I think it's a lot of things, and a lot of guys contributing to make this thing possible," Alfredsson said. "We just take it day by day and try to keep going and try to get as big a gap as we can behind us."

While Ottawa has a secure grip on fifth place in the Eastern Conference, seven points ahead of sixth-place Philadelphia, the Senators have also shrunk Buffalo's division lead to five points. Ottawa is looking to reclaim a division it won four times from 1999-2006.

Ottawa coach Cory Clouston has downplayed the streak, instead focusing on his team's rise in the standings.

"It's more important that we're putting ourselves in a better playoff position," Clouston said. "(Media members) make more of (the streak) than we do."

The Sabres (32-15-7) have allowed Ottawa to close the gap by going 2-4-1 in their last seven. Buffalo lost 5-4 at Pittsburgh on Monday night, blowing a 3-1 lead by allowing four straight goals in the second period.

After stopping 69 of 71 shots in the previous two games -- both victories -- Ryan Miller matched a season high by allowing five goals. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, though, blamed the defense in front of him.

"When you have a two-goal lead, you play a tighter game than that," Ruff said. "You don't hand them those opportunities."

Buffalo has gone 0-4-1 on the road over the last seven games, so a return to HSBC Arena could help. The Sabres are 9-0-3 in their last 12 home contests.

That stretch includes a 3-2 shootout loss Dec. 26 to an Ottawa team that was lacking Spezza and Alfredsson. The Senators still outshot Buffalo 19-1 in a scoreless first period en route to a seventh straight win in the series.

"We play them tough, and we play them well," said Ottawa's Mike Fisher, who scored in overtime Saturday. "We seem to not give them a whole lot. We're ready for the challenge against them."

Elliott is 6-0-0 with a 1.85 GAA against the Sabres, while Alfredsson has six goals and three assists in his last five games versus Buffalo.

This time, the Senators will be without left wing Nick Foligno, who is expected to miss six to eight weeks after breaking his leg against the Canadiens.