Alfredsson, Senators top Sabres again

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) — A pair of meetings with the
Buffalo Sabres has done a world of good for the Ottawa Senators.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored a power-play goal and set up
another and rookie Brian Elliott made 31 saves as the Senators
completed a sweep of their home-and-home series with the Sabres
by posting a 3-1 victory on Wednesday.

Jason Spezza also netted a man-advantage goal and Shean Donovan
tallied in his return to the lineup for the Senators, who
recorded a 3-2 shootout win over the Sabres at home on Saturday.

Ales Kotalik scored the lone goal for the Sabres, who lost their
first game without All-Star Thomas Vanek. The Austrian suffered
a fractured jaw during Saturday’s loss and is expected to miss
at least three weeks.

Without its star left wing, Buffalo converted just 1-of-12
power-play opportunities as it was unable to solve Elliott
except for during a 5-on-3 chance early in the third period.
Vanek leads the league with 15 power-play goals.

“Our PK is something we count on all year,” Donovan said. “It’s
probably been the most consistent part of our game all season,
and tonight, they showed it. They worked hard. You can tell
the (penalty) killers, they’re the dead ones in here right now.”

Elliott has won back-to-back starts for the first time since his
first two NHL appearances on January 13-14. Meanwhile, Ottawa
improved to 2-1-1 under new coach Cory Clouston.

“The guys were just clearing everything out in front and
allowing me to see the puck from the point and keeping
everything to the outside,” Elliott said. “I really didn’t
(need) to make that many saves on the power play. That’s how
good we were.”

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The Senators took advantage of their first opportunity with the
man advantage as a pass across the crease by defenseman Brendan
Bell deflected off Spezza’s skate and past goaltender Ryan
Miller at 5:51 of the first period. Following a video review,
Spezza was awarded his 20th goal of the season.

“We just didn’t come out prepared to play,” Buffalo’s Tim
Connolly said. “We have to do a better job of coming out and
trying to get the lead. I think whenever you get down by a goal
early, it’s a lot more difficult to play.”

In his first game back after missing eight with a knee injury,
Donovan beat Miller from the right faceoff circle at 9:44 of the
middle session for his first goal since December 3, giving
Ottawa a 2-0 lead.

With Kotalik in the penalty box for holding, Alfredsson slapped
a shot from the top of the right circle that squeezed past
Miller with 7:45 remaining in the period for a three-goal bulge.

“It’s just one of those nights. It’s just frustrating,” Miller
said. “Everything has been going our way. We have to bounce
back, we have the best team in the league (in San Jose) coming
in here (on Friday), so we’re really going to have to have a
short memory and go back to work here.”

The 12 power-play chances for Buffalo was a season high in the
NHL this season and the most for a Sabres team since a matchup
with Toronto on January 5, 1996.

“I credited the guys killing penalties,” Clouston said.
“Obviously, your goaltender has to be your best penalty-killer,
and tonight, he was.”