BUFFALO, N.Y. – There’s nothing like a trip to Buffalo for Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators.
Alfredsson had his eighth career hat trick and reached 1,000 NHL points, and Brian Elliott made 34 saves in the Senators’ 4-2 victory over the Sabres on Friday night.
Elliott improved to 9-0-0 against the Sabres, and Alfredsson notched the milestone point with an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left to help the Senators win for the first time in five tries this season on the road.
“It’s a big milestone, but it hasn’t been on my mind at all with the struggles we’ve been going through,” said Alfredsson, who became the 75th player in NHL history to reach the plateau. “I got a bit lucky today, but it feels great to get the 1,000 points and win at the same time.”
Alfredsson has 379 goals, 621 assists in 1,009 regular-season games, all with the Senators. The Swede has 41 goals against the Sabres, tying Jaromir Jagr and Peter Stastny for the most goals against Buffalo.
“I don’t know what it is, to be honest,” Alfredsson said. “We respect (the Sabres) tremendously, and they are always tough to play against. I think because we respect them so much, we do well.”
They sure do.
The Senators have won five straight and nine of 10 in Buffalo, and are 26-8-4 overall against the Sabres since the lockout in 2004-05.
“You want to have a positive feeling before every game, so that’s how we took it,” Elliott said. “We didn’t approach it any differently. We created a lot of offence, and didn’t grab our sticks tightly and panic.”
The Senators were in danger of losing their first five on the road, something they hadn’t done since their inaugural year of 1992-93, but their quiet captain helped right the ship for at least one night.
“You couldn’t write a better script,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “He was our best player tonight. We need him to step up like he did.”
Ryan Shannon also scored for Ottawa (2-4-1), which came in with an NHL-low three points.
Elliott turned aside 20 shots in the third period, and Buffalo’s attempt at a rally was thwarted when Sabres defenceman Steve Montador was called for interference with 1:11 to go.
“I didn’t have many shots in the first half, but they got a bunch in the third,” Elliott said. “We did a good job of keeping the shots outside and clearing the rebounds away.”
Tim Connolly scored twice for the Sabres, 0-4-1 at home this season. The last time Buffalo didn’t secure a victory in its first five home games was in 1993-94 when the team dropped seven straight.
Ryan Miller finished with 28 saves in his seventh start for the Sabres (2-5-1).
“Sometimes it’s more of a chess match against a team like that,” Miller said. “They won’t give you a lot. You have to be willing to play a whole different game.”
The Senators were without centre Jason Spezza, who sat out because of lingering groin issues. He missed the season opener against Buffalo because of the ailment, but played in the last five games, accumulating a goal and a team-leading five points.
Clouston said Spezza is day-to-day.
Shannon gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead at 3:27 of the second, outmuscling Buffalo forward Mike Grier for a rebound in front before lifting the puck in.
Connolly made it 2-2 with his second of the game 1:18 later, but Alfredsson’s second of the game at 10:44 of the second put Ottawa back in front, 3-2.
The Senators struck first when Alfredsson notched his second of the season with 8:06 left in the first period while Ottawa was on the power play. Standing in front of Miller, Alfredsson deflected in Erik Karlsson’s shot from the right point.
Connolly tied it 2:04 later, snapping a shot from the left point that eluded Elliott.
NOTES: Sabres RW Jason Pominville (concussion) missed his fifth game, and D Shaone Morrisonn (groin) missed his fourth straight. … Ottawa D Sergei Gonchar is two games away from playing in his 1,000th NHL game. … Ottawa LW Jarkko Ruutu sustained a gash on his right check and left briefly in the second period after Buffalo LW Thomas Vanek drove him into the boards from behind. Vanek drew a minor penalty for boarding, butRuutu was also whistled for diving. … Karlsson and Gonchar each had two assists.