It wasn’t the most impressive victory but it was enough to give the struggling Ottawa Senators a boost of confidence.
The Senators (6-9-1) snapped a five-game home losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night. Alex DeBrincat, Austin Watson, Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle, with an empty-net goal, scored for Ottawa.
“It brings a lot of confidence,” said Anton Forsberg, who made 29 saves. “The points haven’t gone our way so far so we have to keep building on it, trust the process and trust our game and stick with it no matter what happens and just keep on working.”
With a combined 14 minor penalties, both teams struggled to generate any real momentum. Ottawa took five penalties in the first period, but still managed to take a 1-0 lead into the break on Watson’s 50th career goal.
“I don’t think I’ve ever killed so many penalties in the first two periods of a game … but credit to our penalty killers starting with (Forsberg) who made some awesome saves,” said Watson. “Killing a couple off there early kind of gave us our mojo a little bit on the kill.
“That special teams battle is often times the difference in the game.”
The Sabres went 1-for-8 with the man advantage and only had a total of six shots on the power play. Tage Thompson scored the lone goal for Buffalo (7-10-0), which is now mired in a seven-game losing streak.
“Our power play didn’t look good tonight,” said Sabres head coach Don Granato. “Even after the entry, we hurried things, we forced things, we went individual too quickly. That’s something we have to take a quick look at.”
With plenty of missed chances, Buffalo knows it needs to keep things simple and not get up in the losses as the team tries to turn things around.
“I think we’re gripping the stick too much,” said defenceman Rasmus Dahlin. “We have our chances, but we can’t really execute right now. We need more swagger to our game. I don’t know how many chances, but we had a ton today.”
Sabres goaltender Eric Comrie, who stopped 22-of-24 shots, started the game but was replaced by Craig Anderson after being part of a collision midway through the second.
nderson, who previously spent 10 seasons with Ottawa, returned to Canadian Tire Centre for the first time since parting ways with the Senators in 2020. He was honoured with a video tribute during the first intermission.
“I just tried not to be emotional,” admitted Anderson, who made 14 saves. “I spent a lot of time here, and seeing some of the memories, it was nice to kind of flash back on. It’s in the past. I definitely enjoyed it. A great part of my life, a great time in my life. I’m thankful for that. It was great to kind of relive the moment and kind of be remembered. It was nice.”
Trailing 2-1 to start the third, Buffalo pushed for the equalizer with JJ Peterka hitting the crossbar early in the period. However, DeBrincat made it 3-1 at 14:21 into the frame with his fifth of the season.
“One goal-game going into the third period and we did a good job and stuck with it the whole game so it’s a good win for us,” said DeBrincat. “It’s hard to get a flow when we’re always in the box or they’re in the box for that matter. It’s hard to get that five-on-five consistency, but I thought we did a good job sticking with it.”
After going 0-for-5 on the man advantage in the first period, the Sabres finally capitalized on their sixth power play to tie the game 1-1. Thompson fired a bullet from the faceoff circle for his team-leading 12th of the season 6:41 into the second.
The Senators regained the lead just over three minutes later when Tkachuk put a backhanded shot past Comrie on the power play. Comrie left the game shortly after.
INTERESTING FACT OR STAT
It was Craig Anderson’s first time back at Canadian Tire Centre since leaving as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Anderson holds the Senators franchise record for most regular-season wins (202) and games played (435) by a goaltender.
NOTES: Ottawa defenceman Artem Zub practised in a regular jersey for the first time Wednesday since sustaining an upper body injury Oct. 27. Mark Kastelic was a healthy scratch and replaced with Dylan Gambrell. Claude Giroux is on a nine-game point streak (6G, 7A). Buffalo’s Tage Thompson is riding a six-game point streak (5G, 3A). Anders Bjork made his season debut for the Sabres.
The Senators host the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon while the Sabres head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs Saturday night.