OTTAWA – The Senators’final game before the all-star break was a memorable one for at least somebody from Ottawa.
Rookie Paul Byron, who grew up in the area, notched his first NHL goal and his Buffalo teammate Shaone Morrisonn scored his first of the season in the Sabres’3-2 overtime victory over the Senators on Tuesday.
Byron, 21, playing in just his second NHL contest, took home a nice souvenir from his first game in his hometown–the puck that erased an early Senators’lead.
“Actually, the linesman came and skated (it) over to the bench. I’ll make sure not to lose that one,”Byron said.
Playing before a crowd of 18,990 at Scotiabank Place that included“probably about 40 or 50”of his family and friends, he added to the assist he picked up in his debut on Sunday against the New York Islanders by steering a puck thrown toward the net by Tyler Ennis past Senators goaltender Brian Elliott.
“It was a great feeling,”Byron said.“I was just trying to use my speed and drive the post and I was kind of hoping for a rebound or something, and I saw that Tyler made a perfect pass right on my stick. I can’t say how good it feels to put that one in.”
While Buffalo took home two points from its second straight win and fourth in the past five games, it was another dismal result for the Senators (17-25-8), who are winless in eight straight at home.
Ottawa is without a victory in six straight overall and has just one win in the past 13, so it was another frustrating night.
“Especially when we feel like we’re doing a lot of good things,”Senators left-winger Nick Foligno said.“We’ve preached on this trying to go back to basics and do the right things and I thought we did that for the most part. A few turnovers cost us tonight and we’ve really got to eliminate those in our game.”
Morrisonn converted his own rebound after a set-up from Jason Pominville left him alone in front at the 1:59 mark of the extra frame after Ottawa had forced OT with a goal late in the third period.
“A little adversity, we kept competing and stuck to the game plan and we needed those two points and just kept battling,”Morrisonn said.“Pommer made a great pass out front and I just stuck with it and I got it by him. It’s huge for us to be in the hunt here going into the break.”
Jochen Hecht had the other goal for the Sabres (23-21-5) and Ryan Miller, making his 26th consecutive start, stopped 27 shots and Thomas Vanek had two assists.
Chris Kelly and Sergei Gonchar, on the power play, replied for the Senators.
Elliott made 22 saves and is still looking for his first victory since Boxing Day. He’s now gone 12 starts without winding up on the winning side.
“It’s frustrating when you battle back the way we do and not be able to win,”Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.“We’ve just got to keep pushing. It’s still a matter of us not scoring enough to make it easy on ourselves. We’re going to have to find a way to put more pucks in the net or it’s going to be the same thing.”
Things started out well enough for the Senators.
The Sabres were guilty of some sloppy play in their own end and when Foligno intercepted a pass, Kelly was allowed to use his teammate as a decoy before skating around Miller and slipping the puck into an open net less than 4½ minutes into the contest.
However, Byron, who starred with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Gatineau Olympiques just across the river from Ottawa, tied it a little more than five minutes later.
Hecht followed that up with a backhander from the faceoff circle that eluded the Senators’goaltender and the Sabres led 2-1 after 20 minutes.
After a goal-less second period, Gonchar tied it during a power play with a little more than six minutes remaining in regulation time on a goal that left the Sabres fuming as Mike Fisher ran over Miller on the play, allowing a point shot to find the back of the net.
Buffalo had been killing a tripping call against Miller when Gonchar scored.
“They said the puck was in before I was interfered with,”Miller said.“I obviously strongly disagree with that version of what happened on the ice, and I let them know that.”
The Sabres can be happy with knowing that, with the win, they climbed within four points of the Atlanta Thrashers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand and are three back of the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes.
Both Atlanta and Carolina play Wednesday night.
“We really had to dig ourselves out and I think we should feel good about what we’ve done as we go into the break on a high note here,”Miller said.“Guys should get their energy because that last push is the most intense. It feels good to get a couple wins and overall have a winning record going in.”
Notes: Ottawa made defenceman Filip Kuba a healthy scratch for the game.…The Senators practise Wednesday morning before heading their separate ways for the all-star break. Their next game is next Tuesday at the New Jersey Devils.…The Sabres, meanwhile, don’t play again until next Friday when they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins.