Miller, Sabres blank Senators
Sabres goalie collects 2nd straight shutout
Scotiabank Place, Kanata, Ont.
Ryan Miller (BUF) — 32 saves (shutout)
Brian Elliott (OTT) — 31 saves
Thomas Vanek (BUF) — shootout winner
Ryan Miller has once again proved he is the Buffalo Sabres most valuable player.
The reigning Vezina trophy winner stopped all 32 shots en route to his second straight shutout as the Sabres collected victories on consecutive nights, defeating the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Saturday at Scotiabank Place.
Buffalo's goaltender guided his team to a 5-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, stopping 19 shots in that game.
It was the first time the Sabres backstop recorded consecutive shutouts since a 2-0 win on Jan. 31, 2009, against the Phoenix Coyotes and a 5-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs four days later.
Thomas Vanek scored the shootout winner, charging into the high slot and firing a slap shot past Brian Elliott, snapping the Sabres' three-game road losing streak.
The two teams played for 65 minutes without a goal until the Sabres forward tallied in the second round of the shootout, helping Buffalo to their 11th win of the season.
It was only the fourth time in the last 15 contests that Ottawa was defeated by its divisional rival.
Elliott was equally solid for Ottawa, making 31 saves, including five shots in overtime, as the Senators lost for the 16th time this season.
"Both goalies played great," said Vanek. "We kept shooting and we couldn't break either goalie."
The Senators have been shut out in their last two games and haven't scored in 178 minutes 30 seconds.
"We haven't scored in a while and sometimes you overthink things," said Ottawa's Mike Fisher. "Sometimes it's tough. We're going to get our breaks, we're going to get rolling and we just need to work through it."
Ottawa's struggles on offence have been well documented: The Senators have dropped eight of their past 12, allowing 38 goals against while scoring only 17 times over that span.
Despite the poor showing on Saturday, coupled with losses in their previous two games, coach Cory Clouston wasn't upset with Saturday's effort.
"The positive thing is we worked hard, we played right and we had the chances," he said. "What we need to do now is continue that and bury [the chances]."
Ottawa, which has struggled with the man advantage, going 1-for-12 over the past five games, got the first power-play opportunity courtesy of Nathan Gerbe's holding-the-stick penalty at 3:36.
But it was the visitors who got the best chance. After a Sens turnover at the offensive blue-line, Mike Grier went in alone on a shorthanded breakaway, firing a high shot, but Elliott turned him aside.
"If you're not scoring, but you're not letting any goals in that's definitely a positive," Elliott said. "We've just got to bear down. You work for your chances and I guess we just need to work a little harder and get some puck luck and we'll move forward from there."
The home team, playing in front of a lot of empty seats at Scotiabank Place, went 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the first, Ottawa turned on the pressure. On consecutive shifts, the Sens forwards pinned the Sabres deep in their own end. But a barrage of blocks, pucks missing the net, and key saves by Miller kept the game scoreless.
The Senators held a slight advantage in shots after one period, leading 11-10.
Early in the second, the Sabres nearly had something to cheer about. After Buffalo hemmed the home side into their own end, Paul Gaustad jammed the puck over the goal line, but the referee determined Elliott had control and the play was deemed dead.
Sergei Gonchar came close late in the second. After the Sabres' forechecking created two quality chances in the Ottawa end, the Sens defenceman jumped into the rush and rocketed a slap shot that beat Miller but dinged off the post.
The third was similar to the first two frames: small spurts of offence speckled with blocked shots and pucks flying high and wide of either net.
After 60 minutes, the teams remained deadlocked in a scoreless tie, with the shots advantage leaning towards the Sens 29-26 entering the extra session.
Erik Karlsson had the best chance in the overtime period, sliding into the high slot and firing a slap shot on net, but Miller stepped out of his crease and made the save.
The young Senators defenceman had another glorious opportunity with less than a minute remaining in the extra period, jumping out from behind the Sabres net and attempting a wraparound but Miller hugged his skate to the post, thwarting the last-minute opportunity.
Elliott stands tall
With the game knotted at 0-0 in the second, Derek Roy hammered a shot just outside the crease, but Elliott stood tall, turning aside the Sabres forward.
Seconds later, Elliott came up big once again. The Sens goaltender went post-to-post, stopping two more chances before the puck was cleared.
With files from the Canadian Press