Sens shuffle off skid

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

BUFFALO — As far as a bounce back goes, it was probably akin to Daisuke Matsuzaka throwing a super ball as hard as he can off a cement wall from five feet.

The Senators rebounded from Thursday’s no-show in Nashville with a total team effort.

Ray Emery’s goaltending was again spectacular. Big guns hit their target. The defence was solid. The checkers checked and the penalty killers killed.

The end result was a 3-1 victory over the Sabres last night at HSBC Arena.

It was just the sixth loss of the season for Buffalo, with half of those coming at the hands of the Senators.

The win also brought the Senators (17-16-1) home from this four-game road trip with a 2-2 record.

“We had two losses and they were bad losses, disappointing, really,” said Senators coach Bryan Murray. “But the two wins were excellent and against two of the better teams in the league (also Detroit).”

Jason Spezza’s second of the night and 19th of the season at 2:31 of the third gave the Senators all the breathing room they would need.

It came with Ottawa enjoying a 5-on-3 power play and just seconds after captain Daniel Alfredsson — playing his first game after missing five with a hip injury — dinged the post with a blast from the point.

The Sabres, who have comeback from seven, two-goal deficits this season, could not rally likewise against the Senators.

“You get Alfredsson back, and (Peter) Schaefer back, and get everybody kind of focused ... It made a big difference,” said Murray. “It gave us three lines that could play. We were missing that.”

Fourth liners Dean McAmmond, Denis Hamel, Brian McGrattan line did not step on the ice all night.

Spezza had a chance to complete his hat trick when he was granted a penalty shot on an iffy call a little later in the third period. But his attempt to slip the puck between Ryan Miller’s legs was foiled.

Key saves

Speaking of stops, Emery again made many — 35 in all — and some large ones.

“Ray’s a good goaltender,” said Murray. “It was great to see him come back (from the Nashville debacle) and make the saves he had to.”

Now Emery has a three-game win streak going against the Sabres.

“I think I owe them a bit from last year.” he said. “It’s definitely exciting to play Buffalo. They beat us last year (in the playoffs), and if you’re not up against this team, they can really bite you.”

Spezza added an assist for a three-point night, which Dany Heatley duplicated by scoring a goal and two assists.

The Senators ran into some penalty trouble in the second half of the middle period and, while it did cost them, the damage was minimal.

Schaefer was off for hooking when Jochen Hecht deflected a Brian Campbell point shot that cut into Ottawa’s 2-0 lead.

There probably should have been two Senators in the box at the time, but Chris Neil got away with tripping Thomas Vanek on the delay of the Schaefer call.

The dodged bullet would come back to hit the Senators, however. Ten seconds after the Hecht goal, Chris Kelly was sent off for hooking, and 1:11 later, Chris Phillips followed him to the box.

The Senators survived the consecutive calls, however, thanks mostly to Emery.

His diving stick stop off Chris Drury closely rivals the glove save he made off Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit earlier this week on the spectacular meter.

Heatley opened the scoring with his 19th of the season almost six minutes into the game on what had to be the shortest shot of his career.

After a smart play by Spezza along the boards, Andrej Meszaros boomed a shot from the point that made it to, then through goalie Ryan Miller. As it trickled toward the goal line, Heatley swooped in to ensure a collection of snow wouldn’t stop its progress.

The names Spezza and Heatley were back on the scoresheet about 12 minutes later, this time on the Senators’ first power play of the game.

Heatley had the puck behind the net and found Tom Preissing, who had crept in unnoticed from the point to Miller’s left.

Preissing quickly relayed to Spezza, who one-timed a short shot into the net for his 18th of the year.

The Senators had one scare  when Phillips left the ice after stopping a shot with his right hand.  The blueliner said the puck struck a nerve, but that he’s still good to go.

The Senators return home to face the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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