OTTAWA – With the depleted Ottawa Senators scrambling just to put together four forward lines, goaltender Brian Elliott helped bail them out with another big game.
Elliott made 22 saves for his second shutout in four games and the Senators defeated the streaking Buffalo Sabres 2-0 Wednesday.
“Obviously you go into every game wanting to stop every puck,” said Elliott. “I was able to make all the saves I should and maybe a couple I shouldn’t so that’s all you want.”
Elliott was making his 13th straight start in the absence of the injured Pascal Leclaire. The Senators (17-12-4) are also missing top forward Jason Spezza and winger Nick Foligno.
Spezza could miss six to eight weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament, while Foligno is out indefinitely with a lower body injury.
The absences forced Senators coach Cory Clouston to work on his juggling as he looked to fill some holes.
One of the more creative moves was having defenceman Chris Campoli, who had been a healthy scratch the last two games, play on the wing.
“It was a great team effort,” Clouston said. “Everybody did their role, everybody did their jobs and it was a nice win.”
The Sabres came into the game on a four-game winning streak, but seemed to be caught off guard by the Senators, who compensated for their injury-depleted lineup with plenty of hard work.
“Not real impressive on our part,” said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. “Ottawa played a pretty solid game, but we’ve got to be better.”
Ottawa took a 1-0 lead off Alexandre Picard’s first-period goal and never let up.
Mike Fisher, with his 15th, secured the win, scoring with just over one minute remaining.
The Senators got off to a strong start despite all the changes, outshooting the Sabres 11-5 in the opening period and challenging Miller a number of times. Miller, who faced 27 shots, made a great goal-line save on Ryan Shannon with six minutes remaining.
“I don’t think we generated enough on the front end,” said Miller. “They put a game plan together and did it a little bit better than us.”
The Senators finally scored late in the first as Picard beat Miller with Jonathan Cheechoo providing the perfect screen.
“It doesn’t matter how we win as long as we’re finding ways and playing good defensively,” said Fisher. “A bunch of guys played really well. We just need to stick to our good team game.”
The Senators’ power play continued to struggle, going 0-for-3, although they did have some chances. Shannon had a shot catch the inside of the post and bounce right out early in the third.
Ottawa’s penalty kill made up for it as the Sabres (20-10-2) were 0-for-6 with the man advantage. The Senators took back-to-back minor penalties midway through the third, but kept Buffalo’s chances to a minimum.
“We followed the game plan and had real good efforts,” said Clouston. “When we did give up a shot I thought Brian played very well.”
Ottawa’s makeshift lineup will be tested as the Senators play four games in the next week.
Notes: The Senators were also without RW Shean Donovan (knee, eight weeks). The Sabres C Nathan Gerbe (groin, day-to-day), C Paul Gaustad (knee, one week), D Chris Butler (ankle, indefinitely). D Nathan Paetsch was a healthy scratch.