OTTAWA – One of the few teams the Buffalo Sabres have an ongoing big run of success against is the Ottawa Senators and the Sabres get another chance to extend their dominance of an Atlantic Division rival Thursday night in Canadian Tire Centre. It's a 7:30 faceoff on MSG and Radio 550 with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call.
The Sabres went 4-0-1 against the Senators last year, a season that ended with Ottawa one goal shy of the Stanley Cup final after a double-overtime loss at Pittsburgh in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference final. Buffalo won the last four meetings, and is 6-0-1 against Ottawa in the last seven meetings and 7-0-2 over the last nine, their most consecutive games with the Senators ever.
The Sabres won the only meeting thus far this season, 3-2 on Dec. 12 in KeyBank Center and can pull within one point of Ottawa with a regulation victory.
Here are Five (More) Things to Know about tonight's game:
1. Taking the road
The Sabres have won four straight games on the road (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Boston) for the first time since opening with four road wins in the 2011-12 season. Buffalo has not had a five-game streak away from home since setting an NHL record with 10 straight road wins to open the 2006-07 season. An overtime loss tonight would give the Sabres a five-game point streak on the road for the first time since March 2012.
2. Lineup news: Lehner loves tormenting his old team
Sabres starter Robin Lehner has made a point of schooling the Sens since he was traded from Ottawa to Buffalo in 2015. In nine appearances against his old club, Lehner is 5-0-2 with a 1.39 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.
"I still have a lot of friends in this town, a lot of familiar faces over there," Lehner said. "It's definitely fun to play here."
Coach Phil Housley said he pondered going with Chad Johnson, who is on his first two-game winning streak of the season. But Lehner's record against his old team tipped the scales in his favor.
The Sabres are keeping their forward lines the same as in Tuesday' 5-3 win over Tampa Bay. Josh Gorges will be on defense in place of Justin Falk. Jordan Nolan will also be scratched.
#Sabres lines: Pouliot-ROR-Reinhart, Kane-ERod-Okposo, Wilson-Larsson-Pominville, Girgensons-Josefson-Baptiste
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) February 15, 2018
Ottawa starter Craig Anderson is 13-8-1/2.36/.926 against the Sabres. The Sens will have veteran winger Marian Gaborik in their lineup along with center Nick Shore. Both were acquired from Los Angeles on Tuesday in a trade for Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson.
3. Lots of goals: Sabres scoring them, Sens giving them up
The Sabres have scored at least four goals in four straight games for the first time since Nov. 27-Dec. 4, 2015. If they go 4+ again tonight, that will be their first five-game streak since Feb. 20-March 2, 2007. They have gone 4+ in three straight road games for the first time since March 12 and haven't done that in four straight road games since November 2006.
"It's definitely very fun to see. It's a real positive," Lehner said. "Three out of the last four games have been really, really positive because we've been mixing offense with good defense too."
The Senators, meanwhile, are coming off back-to-back 6-3 road losses in Toronto and Pittsburgh. They have given up 12 goals in their last two games and 25 goals in their last six.
4. Power play keeps chugging along
The Sabres have at least one power-play goal in 12 of the last 15 games they've had a man-advantage situation. They are 16 for 48 in that stretch, leading the NHL in power-play goals and percentage (33.3) since Jan. 7. They are 5 for 13 in the last five games and have gone 3 for 8 without Jack Eichel in the last two games. They've gone from dead last in the league to 23rd overall and are 20th on the road.
The Senators, meanwhile, have had a seasonlong struggle on the penalty kill. They're just 29th overall at 74.7 percent and 30th at home at 70.9 percent. They're at just 66.7 percent (10 for 15) over the last five games.
5. Numbers games
Ryan O'Reilly has back-to-back three-point games and has 22 points in his last 22 games (10-12-22). Sam Reinhart has 16 points in the last 13 games (6-10-16) and Kyle Okposo has 15 points in 15 games (3-12-15). ... The Sabres can pull to .500 in their division tonight with a win. They are 5-6-2 against the Atlantic this season. Buffalo is 6-4-2 against the Pacific but is a disastrous 6-20-6 against the Metropolitan (5-12-4) and Central (1-8-2). ... Eighteen of the last 24 meetings with Ottawa have been decided by one goal, with seven of those games in overtime or shootout. ... The Sabres are 7-9-10 in one-goal games, while the Senators are 12-8-9. The teams have combined to go 9-19 in OT/shootouts (Buffalo is 3-10, Ottawa, 6-9).