No matter where they play or who's in the lineup, the Sabres and Senators are evenly matched. They added more evidence Wednesday night.
For the 15th time in their last 20 meetings, one goal decided the outcome. This time, Ottawa earned the win. Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan beat Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner in the shootout to lift the Senators to a 2-1 victory in KeyBank Center.
Buffalo won, 2-1, in Ottawa on Saturday night. It nearly won in overtime after outshooting the Sens, 8-0, in the extra session. Zemgus Girgensons' deflection with 22 seconds left hit the crossbar, the skate of goaltender Mike Condon and the post before resting in front of the goal line.
Ottawa outshot the Sabres, 29-24, in regulation.
In and out: Even when the Sabres get good news on the injury front, bad news accompanies it. Left wing Evander Kane returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with cracked ribs. He rejoined the top line, but Ryan O’Reilly departed it. The center sat out with an upper-body ailment and is day-to-day.
Left wing Tyler Ennis, who was limited to 7:33 on Monday in Boston, sat out with a mid-body injury. Ennis could miss two to three weeks, according to a source.
Back home: With O’Reilly sidelined, the Sabres called up Cole Schneider. The Williamsville native deserved it. Schneider was tied for the points lead in the American Hockey League, putting up seven goals and 15 points in 10 games with the Rochester Americans. Schneider played his third NHL game and second in Buffalo. The Sabres called up the 26-year-old for the final two games last season.
Schneider earned his first career point as the Sabres opened the scoring with 2:49 gone. Derek Grant won a faceoff in Ottawa’s zone, and Schneider pushed the puck to Nick Baptiste for a quick shot that bounced home off the glove of Condon.
Grant and Schneider formerly played in the Ottawa organization, while Baptiste is from the city.
Splitting the D: Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel created a highlight for himself and a lowlight for the Sabres. He took a pass at his own blue line and buzzed into Buffalo’s zone. He easily cut between top-pair defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Dmitry Kulikov, then beat Robin Lehner on the short side to make it 1-1 midway through the second.
Killing it: For the second straight game, the Sabres faced an extended five-on-three. Unlike in Boston, they killed. Ottawa had the two-man advantage for 1:24 late in the second, but the Sabres kept the game tied heading into the third. The penalty killers are 11 for 11 at home.
Ottawa's short-handed unit came through in the closing minutes. Erik Karlsson hooked Marcus Foligno on a breakaway with 8:52 to go, but goaltender Mike Condon turned aside the Sabres' two power-play shots.
Friendly fire: Lehner survived an inadvertent head shot from Foligno in the opening minute. The goalie, Foligno and an Ottawa forward chased a dump-in below the goal line, and Foligno clipped Lehner’s head. Lehner, who suffered a major concussion in February 2015, dropped his stick, adjusted his mask and repeatedly stretched his neck but stayed in.
Lehner made eight saves in the first as Buffalo entered intermission with a 1-0 advantage. Buffalo entered the night 4-0-2 when scoring first and 3-0 when leading after one.
Forward thinking: With the roster in flux, the Sabres changed all their lines, with the exception of Johan Larsson in the middle of left wing Foligno and captain Brian Gionta. Kane skated with center Sam Reinhart and right wing Kyle Okposo. Girgensons centered for left wing William Carrier and right wing Matt Moulson. Grant was in the middle of Schneider and Baptiste.
Long-awaited union: When the Sabres acquired Kulikov during the summer, the initial plan was to pair him with Ristolainen. In the 13th game of the season, they finally kicked off the night together. Kulikov and Ristolainen made up the first pair, followed by Josh Gorges with Casey Nelson, and Jake McCabe with Cody Franson.
Letterman: With alternate captain O’Reilly out of the lineup, the Sabres stitched an A on the jersey of Okposo.
Next: The will get to know the New Jersey Devils very well this weekend. The Sabres host the Devils at 7 p.m. Friday on Military Appreciation Night. They teams will then head to the airport for flights to New Jersey, where they will face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday in Prudential Center.