BUFFALO -- The Rayzor wasn't sharp, but then again, neither were his teammates.
The Senators looked very scruffy in the first period of the initial visit of the season to HSBC Arena, the site of last season's Eastern Conference championship victory.
They became more presentable as the night went on, but never could they fully recover from a 3-0 first-period deficit in what became a 4-2 trimming by the Buffalo Sabres.
"Just the one," said Emery, referring to Ales Kotalik's wrist shot from the high slot, when asked about the goals he should have had. "I'd obviously like that one back. Other than that, they made two good plays. Definitely the first period is what sank our ship.
"There's always two teams on the ice, and the other team is a factor," said Senators coach John Paddock. "But we have to come out and match their intensity. We weren't at the same emotional level as Buffalo was at the start of the game."
The loss left the Senators limping home from their longest road trip of the season thus far -- a three-game-in-six-day venture through their own division -- with an underwhelming 1-2 record.
Adding injury to insult, the Senators lost one of their best players 18 minutes into this game when Patrick Eaves went shoulder to shoulder with Sabres defenceman Brian Campbell.
Eaves, who at first appeared to rock Campbell harder than he himself was rocked, was slow to get off the ice. When he did, he skated straight to the dressing room, not to be seen again.
Eaves was diagnosed with a separated right shoulder that will keep him out indefinitely.
The first period showed the Senators to be sloppy in their own zone and shakiness from Emery, who had only made two previous starts in November and just three this season.
"Three of the last four or five games we've had tough first periods," said Heatley. "Call it whatever you want, but obviously we weren't ready for their forecheck or speed off the bat. We have enough character and leadership in here that we have to address that and make sure it doesn't happen in the next games."
While Emery never did look very comfortable, the rest of the red guys finally started stirring in the second period, when down by three.
Not coincidentally, that's when Paddock abandoned attempts to spread his scoring and reunited his big three -- the Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson line.
Spezza, who had a close-up view on Buffalo's first goal, started the rally by grabbing a Sabres giveway and presenting Alfredsson with his 16th goal of the season. Then, on Ottawa's second power play of the night, Spezza won a faceoff that led to Heatley's 10th. Drew Stafford restored the two-goal lead. The Senators had a chance to get back in it with Mike Fisher off serving a high-sticking minor at the 6:02 mark. But with the short-handed break and having just deked Miller to the ice, Chris Kelly's shot at the open net hit the post.
"I couldn't have hit the post any squarer," said Kelly. "It was one of those ones that, as soon as I hit it, I couldn't believe what happened."