Tuesday night in Ottawa wasn't only a victory for the Sabres but they made a statement. One day after Ottawa Senators General Manager Bryan Murray declared that the Senators organization made a statement by acquiring Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore from Carolina, the Buffalo Sabres made a statement of their own. The Sabres completely dominated the Senators from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer and they were rewarded with a 5-1 victory against the Eastern Conference leaders.
It would be difficult to find a guy who did not play well in the game but it would be easy to pick Thomas Vanek as the number one star. Vanek had his first hat trick of the season and was a force all night, playing with Derek Roy and Tim Connolly. It is easy to see how important Connolly is to this team because he takes pressure off of some of the other guys because of his offensive talent. Jason Pominville and Clarke MacArthur each had a goal and an assist while Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht and Brian Campbell each had two assists for Buffalo. Randy Robitaille scored the only goal for the Senators.
The Ottawa Senators remain the top team in the eastern Conference but they have been exposed as a one line team, a thought that was verified on Tuesday night. The Sens top line of Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson-Dany Heatley had only six of the Senators 26 shots and were completely held in check by Buffalo. Spezza-Alfredsson-Heatley have scored a combined 85 goals of the 197 scored by Ottawa which accounts for 43% of all of their goals. If you can keep those three players in check you have a recipe for victory against the Sens.
The victory vaults the Sabres into eighth place which would be enough to get them into the playoffs. The Sabres victory combined with the Bruins loss Tuesday put the Sabres one point ahead of Boston with 26 games left in the season. The Sabres sit just five points behind Montreal who is currently in fourth place and Buffalo is one of the hottest teams in hockey right now. The Sabres have earned at least one point in every game they have played in the Month of February and if you remember back to last Friday they had a game against Boston all but wrapped up before allowing a late goal and eventually lose in the shootout.
Tonight it's the Leafs on tap for Buffalo so it's time to get hyped up. I'll have the open thread up later this afternoon so comment away!