Butler scores shootout winner for Sens

Ottawa Senators left wing Nick Foligno, right wing Bobby Butler and right wing Chris Neil (L-R)...

Ottawa Senators left wing Nick Foligno, right wing Bobby Butler and right wing Chris Neil (L-R) celebrate a shootout victory against the Buffalo Sabres, at the end of their NHL hockey game in Buffalo, New York December 31, 2011. Butler scored the game winner. (REUTERS/Doug Benz)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

BUFFALO - The Senators had their own way of ringing in the new year.

They hit post after post after post after post after post after post.

Ottawa persevered in its battle against Ms. Fortune, however, by also hitting mesh one more time than the Sabres in a 3-2 shootout victory at First Niagara Center.

The winner was notched in the fifth round of the shootout by Bobby Butler, who hit two of the six posts the Senators dinged through three periods.

"I hit a couple of posts ... I was feeling it (tonight)," he said. "Yesterday, I worked on some breakaways with Andy (goalie Craig Anderson) and I felt good. Hopefully I can start going post-in."

As for his winning goal: "I just came down slow and waited for him to make a move."

Coach Paul MacLean said he went with his regular shootout guys then turned to those who had success in the shootout at the skills competition.

"Tonight (Butler) worked hard. It was good to see him have the patience," MacLean said.

Erik Karlsson was denied by the goalpost in the first period.

"Today wasn't our day. We played unbelievable and we couldn't get the puck in the net. It was a great win, but we should have won in regulation. To fight back showed great character," he said. "You can't let posts frustrate you. We didn't do that today."

"It was just one of those nights," said Craig Anderson, who had the help of one of his posts when Jason Pominville rang one off his left pipe in overtime. "Their goalie was lucky at the end and we got the result we were looking for. That's what we wanted."

Anderson counted eight posts hit by his teammates. When told it was six, he said: "I'll keep a marker out there for next game."

The victory was the second in a row for the Senators and leaves them in a Top-8 spot in the Eastern Conference at the conclusion of 2011.

It was the Senators' fourth visit to extra time in their last five games.

Matt Carkner scored his first of the season with a solid wrist shot on a set up from Kyle Turris, and Chris Neil made a nifty move on a breakaway after being sent in by “Sneaky” Erik Condra for his fifth.

“Sneaky” also had an assist on the Carkner goal.

Brad Boyes and Paul “The Concussion Maker” Gaustad had the Sabres goals.

The Senators outshot the Sabres 46-28, but had 52 shots counting the posts.

STARTS AND STOPS: Don’t be surprised if the Senators start urging all their players to wear helmets in the pre-game warmup. Sergei Gonchar didn’t have one on when he was hit in the head by a Kyle Turris dump-in at First Niagara Center. Gonchar was kept out of the game for “precautionary reasons.” Brian Lee took his spot in the lineup ... But don't expect coach Paul MacLean to make the ruling: "For their hockey card everybody looks better with their helmet off. I always wore mine, but that's everybody's own choice." ... It was a wild New Year’s Eve in Binghamton, where the B-Sens and Syracuse Crunch spent a good part of the night beating the hell out of each other. Most noteable, however, was Robin Lehner’s attack on a referee. Sounds like the Senators goalie of the future is about to find himself suspended ... Jason Spezza was the least likely player to take a penalty on the line he was on when he took the game’s first penalty, as his wingers on that particular shift were Chris Neil and Zenon Konopka. Brad Boyes scored with Spezza in the box ... Not sure why Craig Anderson thought it necessary to lunge forward to make a blocker stop off the point shot from Jordan Leopold, but in doing so he left Boyes with an open net on the rebound ... It was 13 New Years Eves ago that play-by-play ace Dean Brown left the Marine Midland Arena (which went on to be the HSBC Arena, then First Niagara Center) while working a Senators-Sabres. Why? His first son was about to enter the world back in Ottawa. As Brown was leaving the rink - and booth partner Gord Wilson to handle both chores - he passed injured Senators defenceman Lance Pitlick. “You wanted to do color some time?” he said to Pitlick. “Yeah” replied Pitlick. “When?” Said Brown: “How about starting seven minutes ago?” From there, a star was born. Yup, happy birthday Connor Brown ...

STUFF I THINK I THUNK: Looks like Erik Karlsson is not happy about losing to Colin Greening faster skater contest of the skills competition. He shifted it into a gear we haven’t seen before to catch Jason Pominville on a second period breakaway. The Sabres captain had at least a four-stride head start on him ... Condra has had the Senators' first great scoring chance in each of the two games. Against Buffalo, he hit the post while on a 2-on-1 with Alfredsson early in the second minute ... Kyle Turris hit the post in the 14th minute ... Bobby Butler hit the post in the 18th minute ... Erik Karlsson hit the post in the 19th minute ... Saw Senators goalie coach Rick Walmsley during the intermission. “There’s going to be a delay (getting the second started) ... we’re going to measure their net,” he quipped ... Nick Foligno made a nice move off a 1-on-1 before backhanding a shot off the post in the second ... Butler hit another post, in the 59th minute.

BETWEEN PERIODS: So, Alfredsson was asked Saturday morning, do you think you have a shot at 500? “It’s highly unlikely,” he said with a laugh, before adding: “Never say never.” Yeah, he probably doesn’t have three more 30 goal seasons in him. Probably not ... Alfredsson says he has scored the majority of his 400 with a wrist shot. “In the early days I didn’t really have a slap shot,” he said. “My stick was straight, with a little toe curve. When I changed from wood to composite, it changed the way I shot.” Now, Alfredsson’s bread and butter is the slapper. “I think my one-timer is better now than it’s been in the past,” he said. “My wrist shot was probably better a few years ago, but that’s more to do with my legs. Some games it’s really good.” ... Alfredsson’s sons were talking to him about his accomplishment the morning after he scored No. 400. They wanted to know who has the most goals.“I told them, there’s one guy who has 892,” he said, referring to Wayne Gretzky, who actually tops the list with 894. "So, if you put it all in perspective ... It’s a great milestone and I’m very proud of it, no question, but there are a lot greater goal scorers than I am.” ... The Senators' healthy scratch was supposed to be Lee, as MacLean had Matt “Big Country” Carkner back in the lineup after making him a healthy scratch against Calgary Friday. While he wanted Country’s toughness in the lineup in a road game against a divisional foe and sat him against the Flames mainly because he didn’t want to use him and his surgically repaired knee in back-to-back games, MacLean liked the way Lee performed when he was in. “He played real well for us,” said MacLean, who added that sitting a player remains “the toughest decision to make as a coach.” ... The Senators miss Gonchar on the power play, but they don’t lose a thing defensively when they have to replace him with Lee ...

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: There would be no retribution paid Gaustad, who gave Jesse Winchester a concussion with a dirty hit from behind the last time the two teams met and then was responsible for Toronto’s John-Michael Liles suffering a similar injury a few days later. Gaustad appeared to want no part of Zenon Konopka’s offer to dance .... Neil patronized Nathan Gerbe, the Sabres' 5-foot-5 forward, by patting him on the head after a third period whistle ... Konopka, who was 7-0 in faceoffs Friday, was 7-6 against the Sabres.


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