By Mike Harrington
OTTAWA -- Both teams are looking at key parts of their offense to get their games going tonight when the Sabres and Senators meet in Scotiabank Place.
The Sabres, of course, have the NHL's top line in Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville but little other scoring. Drew Stafford continues to have no goals -- and leads the NHL's goal-less players with 36 shots on goal.
"Obviously we need more production out of Drew," coach Lindy Ruff bluntly told me today. "He had Grade A opportunities last game (Sunday's 3-1 loss to Boston), two that we need him to finish. I can't stand here and say, 'Well he had two great chances.' The production is putting those away. When the game was 1-1, he could have turned it to 2-1 for us on a couple of his opportunties.
"He did make a real good play to [Tyler] Ennis that got us the tie. Maybe that's a start. Some of the in-tight stuff, he's had a couple chances and the in-tight stuff has got to improve."
The Senators are 1-3-1 in their last five games and have scored just seven goals in that stretch. The only win and four of the goals? Last Tuesday here against the Sabres (thank you, Jhonas Enroth). Coach Paul MacLean was on his team big-time Monday in practice to drive the net, as this Ottawa Sun story recounts.
Rookie Mika Zibanejad, who scored the overtime winner for Sweden against Russia in the gold medal game of the 2012 World Junior Championships, will center the Sens' top line tonight between veterans Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson. Jason Spezza is out after back surgery and the Sens are struggling without him.
Want another key for tonight? Watch the second period. The Sabres have been outscored, 22-13 (tied for the most goals against any team in any period). The Sens have a 14-4 advantage in their middle stanza.
Also watch the woeful Buffalo power play. The Sabres are 1 for 29 for the season on the road, better only than 0-for-23 Detroit (Detroit??!!). They've gone 0 for 12 in the last three road games and have failed to score in 13 straight chances.
taggedDrew Stafford | Ottawa Senators