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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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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
1st
NYR 0
CAR 0
 
Final
TOR 118
NYK 108
Final
CLE 105
MEM 91
Half
MIA 52
BOS 42
 
Half
BRK 53
DET 51
 
2nd
SAC 52
LAL 57
 
Half
ORL 42
PHI 37
 
Half
WAS 50
PHO 50
 
1st
MIN 0
IND 0
 
1st
OKC 2
NOP 3
 
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
Final
LIP 69
PEAY 63
 
Final
DEN 46
BRY 48
 
Final
MONT 62
SD 67
 
Final
MTST 65
TENST 47
Final
SAMF 64
LAMON 50
 
Final
SCAR 78
COKR 52
 
Final
HAMP 75
NARZ 66
 
Final
SDU 71
SDCHR 61
 
Final
BC 71
USC 75
 
Final
NICST 64
TROY 65
 
Final
BRAD 47
UCI 55
 
2nd
UGA 41
SHU 22
 
1st
ALA 25
APP 26
 
1st
KSU 6
NDST 6
 
1st
WASU 4
SJST 7
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
2nd
DET 0
COL 0
 
2nd
EDM 3
DAL 2
 
1st
BOS 0
BUF 0
 
1st
NYR 0
CAR 0
 
1st
CHI 0
TOR 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
Final
MIA 37
MIN 35
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
4th
STL 27
NYG 37
 
4th
OAK 19
BUF 17
 
4th
DAL 42
IND 7
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA