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Senators beat Sabres 5-3 on late goals by Heatley, Alfredsson

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Ottawa Senators stayed calm after blowing a three-goal lead and recovered in time to win yet another road game.

Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson scored late in the third period and Ottawa beat Buffalo 5-3 on Friday night to hand the Sabres their season-worst fifth straight loss.

"We weren't worried," said Alfredsson, who also picked up an assist on Heatley's goal. "We just wanted to keep going.

"I think we have enough experience that we don't worry about what could have been. We look at the positive, and we know we can still score."

Jason Spezza and Andrej Meszaros each added a goal and an assist for the Senators, who snapped a two-game skid and won for the fourth time in six games.

Ray Emery made 36 saves and Cody Bass scored his first NHL goal. Ottawa owns the best road record in the Eastern Conference (14-4-2), thanks in large part to Heatley and Alfredsson.

"That's what you have elite players for," Senators coach John Paddock said. "That's what those guys have to do at big times if you're going to be a successful team."

Ales Kotalik, Jochen Hecht and Michael Ryan scored for Buffalo, which erased a three-goal deficit before Heatley and Alfredsson scored.

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, making his 13th consecutive start, was pulled midway through the second period after allowing three goals on 17 shots. It was the fifth time in his career that Miller has been yanked from a game. Jocelyn Thibault finished with eight saves in relief.

"I'm not really happy," Miller said. "I would have liked to stay in.

"It was one of those nights where we didn't go good enough early and they got a fortunate bounce."

During their five-game losing streak, the Sabres have scored only eight times.

"We need our offence most nights to be better," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We failed in a few little areas."

Heatley restored Ottawa's lead with his 24th goal of the season at 15:19 of the third period, ripping a slap shot past Thibault from the right circle. Alfredsson made it 5-3 two minutes later with his 25th.

"They seem to be able to turn it up a notch when you need them to," Emery said.

Emery, making his first start since Dec. 22, made several big stops, especially in the second period when Buffalo peppered him with 17 shots.

The Ottawa blue-line was bolstered by the return of Anton Volchenkov, who had missed 15 games because of a broken finger. Volchenkov made his presence felt early when he delivered a punishing blow to Sabres forward Daniel Paille in the first period. Paille skated off immediately after the hit and appeared groggy. He didn't return.

Volchenkov also blocked Thomas Vanek's shot that was headed into the net midway through the third period.

The Senators opened the scoring on Bass' goal three minutes into the game. Meszaros' wrist shot from the right point first went off Mike Fisher near the right circle before Bass got a piece of it to put it past Miller.

"A goal's a goal," the rookie said. "All you have to do is go to the net."

Ottawa pushed its lead to 2-0 when Meszaros scored his seventh just 1:35 into the second period, and the Senators chased Miller when Spezza scored his 15th at 10:49 of the middle period. Spezza corralled a loose puck in the right circle, whirled around and sent a wrister toward the net that eluded Miller.

Buffalo closed the gap 15 seconds later when Kotalik tapped in Vanek's pass from down low.

Hecht made it 3-2 on the power play with his team-leading 14th goal at 11:31 of the third period, and Ryan tied it with his third 2:18 later.

Notes: Sabres RW Maxim Afinogenov missed the game because of a groin injury . . . These teams meet in Ottawa on Thursday . . . The Sabres begin a three-game road trip Sunday in Atlanta . . . Miller was pulled from a home game for the first time in his career . . . Heatley has points in 16 of the 20 games he's played against Buffalo while with the Senators.


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