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Preview: It’s Off to Ottawa

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Sabres face Sens in second of three games in four days

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Game #68

Buffalo Sabres (21-34-11) vs. Ottawa Senators (23-32-10)

Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | Canadian Tire Centre | Ottawa, ON

Season Series: 1-1

12/12: Sabres 3, Senators 2 (recap)

2/15: Sabres 2, Senators 3 (OT) (recap)

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Sens blog: Silver Seven Sens

What to Watch

1. About Last Night....

Man, what happened to the Sabres last night? After pulling off a solid win over the Leafs earlier in the week, they absolutely blew it to the Flames. Casey Nelson scored in the dying seconds of the game to break the shutout bid, but the lackadaisical effort was downright painful to watch. Calgary came out to a blazing start and the Sabres weren’t able to match that effort.

Is it a good thing, or a bad thing, that Buffalo has to get right back on the saddle for tonight’s game against Ottawa, and then face a tough Vegas team at home Saturday night?

2. Rasmus Ristolainen, Doing Good Things?

Rasmus Ristolainen has 24 points, including 18 assists, in his last 30 games. That ranks him tied for seventh among NHL defensemen during that stretch, which is a not insignificant feat. He’s also been hot lately against the Sens, with eight assists in his last eight games versus Ottawa.

3. On the Road Again

Heading into tonight’s game, Buffalo is 6-2-1 in their last nine road games. If they earn at least a point, they’ll have registered points in eight of 10 consecutive road games for the first time since 2012.

But after tonight’s game, the Sabres will return back to KeyBank Center for a long stretch of six consecutive home games. They will then be on the road for six of their last eight games to finish out the regular season.

Know Your Opponent

1. Coming in Hot (Kind of)

The Senators are coming off a Monday 3-2 win over Dallas, but overall, they’ve struggled just as much as Buffalo this season. Ottawa is currently just three points ahead of the Sabres in the standings, and the teams are matched in regulation/overtime wins.

They’ve scored more goals than the Sabres (177/160) but have also allowed more (227/219) in two fewer games played.

2. Home Sweet Home

The Senators are heading back to Canadian Tire Centre this evening after finishing up a four-game road trip. The Sens aren’t spectacular at home this season, but they’ve got 14-13-5 in Ottawa. The Sabres, meanwhile, are 11-16-7 on the road.

3. The Leaders

Right winger Mark Stone leads the Senators with 20 goals and 61 points this season. He’s the only Sens player to eclipse the 20-goal mark so far this season, though Mike Hoffman is one shy and Derick Brassard is two away. Of course, there’s also Erik Karlsson, who is seventh among NHL defensemen with 49 points (7-42) in just 60 games.

And don’t forget, the Sens now have guys like Marian Gaborik and Magnus Paajarvi.

Projected Lineup (Unconfirmed)

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 23 Sam Reinhart

20 Scott Wilson - 22 Johan Larsson - 29 Jason Pominville

17 Jordan Nolan - 10 Jacob Josefson - 21 Kyle Okposo

25 Seth Griffith - 65 Danny O’Regan - 13 Nick Baptiste

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

45 Brendan Guhle - 8 Casey Nelson

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 93 Victor Antipin

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner