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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, October 4th (All times Eastern)

Ottawa Senators (0-0-0) at Buffalo Sabres (0-1-0), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators enter the 2013-14 season with lofty expectations, and they'll do their best to get off to a good start when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Friday's clash at First Niagara Center.

The Senators made the playoffs for the second straight spring in 2013 before losing in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games. However, Paul MacLean's club was bounced out of the postseason with superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson playing at less than 100 percent, and a return to health for Ottawa's best player is key to the team's success in 2013-14.

Also on Ottawa's mind heading into this season is the loss of longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson, who signed with new Atlantic Division rival Detroit this summer. Alfredsson, who was the face of the franchise for well over a decade, will face his former team four times in the regular season, but he won't make his first trip to Ottawa until Dec. 1.

The Senators actually won't play any team on home ice until Oct. 17, as the club is starting this season on a six-game road trip. One of Ottawa's weaknesses last year was its inability to put forth consistent efforts on the road, where the Sens went 10-11-3 during the lockout-shortened season of 2013.

Although "Alfie" is no longer a member of the Sens, the club did react quickly by landing power forward Bobby Ryan from Anaheim on the same day their former captain made the decision to head across the border into Michigan. Ryan is a four-time 30-goal scorer at the ripe age of 26, and he'll likely offer more offensive production than the 41-year-old Alfredsson could at this stage of his career.

Ryan's offensive contributions aside, under MacLean the Senators still will be expected to play a cohesive defensive style in front of the steady goaltending of Craig Anderson. Anderson missed considerable time during the 2013 regular season, but is ready for the season opener on Friday.

The Sabres, also members of the new-look Atlantic Division, opened their season Wednesday night in Detroit and were handed a 2-1 regulation by the Red Wings. Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk tallied 36 seconds apart in the first period and Jimmy Howard turned away 19-of-20 shots to lift the Red Wings to a win in their first game as a member of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

It was the 12 time in the last 13 matchups that the Sabres lost at Joe Louis Arena.

Zemgus Girgensons scored his first career goal for Buffalo, which came up short on all seven of its power-play opportunities. Girgensons, drafted 14th overall in the 2012 draft, lit the lamp in the third period.

Ryan Miller was steady following the two early goals, stopping 32-of-34 shots in the narrow defeat.

"We were right there all night," Miller said. "We got in a position to tie. I think we were improving as the game went on."

The Sabres, who are rebuilding and not expected to make the postseason in 2013-14, lost forward Ville Leino to a cracked rib in the opener and he is out indefinitely. Leino signed a six-year, $27 million with Buffalo in the summer of 2011, but has battled injuries and inconsistency during his tenure with the Sabres.

After visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the Sabres will return home for a two-game stint in western New York.

Ottawa won three of four meetings against the Sabres last season, but the Sens have dropped four of their last seven tilts in Buffalo.

10/04 10:46:42 ET

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Schedule

Thursday, April 24Full Scoreboard
Boston 4/24 8:00 PM ET
Detroit NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FSN-DET
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Four. Boston leads series, 2-1.
Colorado 4/24 9:30 PM ET
Minnesota CNBC, TSN2, Alt, FSN-N,WI
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Four. Colorado leads series, 2-1.
San Jose 4/24 10:30 PM ET
Los Angeles NBCSN, CBC, FSN-W, CSN-CA
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Four. San Jose leads series, 3-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR
 
Final
CLE 5
KAN 1
Final
PIT 1
CIN 2
8th
DET 6
CWS 4
 
8th
TAM 6
MIN 9
 
8th
NYM 4
STL 1
 
6th
CHC 1
ARI 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
SDP
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
BAL
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
NYY
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
OAK
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
ATL
IND
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
OKC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAC
8:00pm Tonight
DET
BOS
9:30pm Tonight
MIN
COL
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
SJS
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR