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Upbeat Senators return home to face struggling Sabres

Sportsnaut
Jan 15, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators defensemen Thomas Chabot (72) and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) look for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators defensemen Thomas Chabot (72) and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) look for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators look to build off a successful road trip and eye a third straight win when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

The Senators return home after sweeping an Alberta road trip with a pair of wins in Calgary and Edmonton for their first meeting of the season with the Sabres.

“I think when you look at Buffalo, they’re kind of same position as us,” Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot said. “Over the years, you learn that there’s not one game that’s easy, there’s not one team that’s just going to let you win against them. This is another game for us that we want to keep this rolling. We played well on the trip. To have the chance to come back home, we obviously want to get our home game going.”

It’s the first home game for the Senators since Dec. 11, with six games since then postponed. They’ll play the game without fans in attendance due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions in the province of Ontario.

“You can’t replace (having fans),” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “We’ve talked about getting going at home, feeling good with the fans and having an atmosphere here … You want to be one of those teams that when you come to Ottawa, and it’s hard (to) build, but when you’re here you’re going to get our best. It’s hard to do that without fans.”

The Senators had a strong December, going 5-3-1 before their season was paused and scoring at least three goals in six of the eight games they played.

“We want to push the same direction that we’ve been,” Chabot said. “December, we had a great month, obviously the first game of the new year was a bit harder. … But at the end of the day, the last two games were the way we want to play. We want to play like that the rest of the season. We want to keep on pushing each other.”

The Sabres arrive in Ottawa after blowing a two-goal third-period lead against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday before falling in overtime, 3-2.

It’s the second time in the past six games Buffalo has had a two-goal lead heading into the third period only to lose in overtime, having done so in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

“This is a young team,” Sabres forward Alex Tuch said. “We’re going to have to learn to play with a lead and capitalize and playing with a lead. We weren’t able to do that tonight. We let our goalie down.”

The Sabres have just one win in their past nine games, a 4-1 triumph against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 13, going 1-5-3 in that stretch.

While the team has struggled, Jeff Skinner has been on a roll since the calendar switched to 2022, with five goals and an assist in six games. He scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season against Detroit and had a pair in the win against Nashville.

“He has the puck on a string out there,” Tuch said. “He’s finding little pockets, he’s making the right all over the ice, possessing the puck. He makes it really easy to play off of him and play with him.”

–Field Level Media