Senators' Elliott outduels Miller
Alexandre Picard's late first-period goal stood up as the winner and Senators goalie Brian Elliott made 22 saves to beat Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Wednesday night in Ottawa.
Ottawa put 28 shots on the Vezina front-runner, who came into the game leading the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage, tied for first with four shutouts and just one away from top spot with 19 wins.
Picard's goal showed the value of the old saw about getting traffic in front of a hot goalie. The defenceman's wrist shot from the left point looked harmless enough, but Miller was completely screened and the puck eluded him with 97 seconds left in the first period.
Mike Fisher salted the game away with 96 ticks to go in the third, converting the rebound off Peter Regin's point shot to make sure Elliott got the win in his 13th straight start in the absence of the injured Pascal Leclaire.
"I was able to make all the saves I should and maybe a couple I shouldn't," Elliott said after recording his second shutout of the season, both coming in the last four games.
The victory moved Ottawa (17-12-4) into a second-place tie in the Northeast with Boston, four points behind division leader Buffalo (20-10-2), which saw its four-game winning streak snapped.
"Not real impressive on our part," Miller said. "Ottawa played a pretty solid game, but we've got to be better. … I don't think we generated enough on the front end. They put a game plan together and did it a little bit better than us."
The Senators were without top centre Jason Spezza, who will miss six to eight weeks with a torn knee ligament, and winger Nick Foligno, who's out indefinitely due to a lower-body injury.
To help plug the holes, Ottawa coach Cory Clouston moved defenceman Chris Campoli, a healthy scratch the last two games, up to the wing.
"It was a great team effort," Clouston said. "Everybody did their role, everybody did their jobs and it was a nice win."
Clouston found himself down another forward after Jarkko Ruutu received a game misconduct for boarding in the opening minute of the second period. Ruutu drove Patrick Kaleta's head into the glass as the Sabres pest fished for the puck in his skates in the Ottawa zone.
A dazed Kaleta left the game and didn't return. The forward was "not too good," according to Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
"I think it was a clean hit," said Ruutu, who last January was suspended two games for biting the gloved hand of then Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters.