Remember when it seemed like we'd never beat Ottawa again?
With four wins in five games against the Senators this season, that feels like ancient history, doesn't it? All of a sudden, Ottawa is our new Toronto- show up at the arena, receive two points, move on to the next game. All that's missing is the deluge of obnoxious blue and white-clad fans from the north.
Of course, it hasn't really been that easy. All three previous wins were by a single goal, with one coming in OT and another in a shootout. An Ottawa team that fielded a large number of call-ups from Binghamton was determined to make the Sabres earn these two points as well. And earn them they did - Buffalo hit Ottawa early and often and skated circles around those AHLers for the most part, spending enough time in the Ottawa zone to earn party-guest-who-wouldn't-leave status while getting 38 shots on newly acquired Craig Anderson. A few less goalposts and a bit more finish, and the endgame wouldn't have been so tense.
- Mike Grier scored. On a breakaway. Yes, that Mike Grier. The same one who has been left for dead by the fanbase, the one who looks like he needs a defibrillator 20 seconds into a shift. The one who plays with noted offensive luminaries such as Paul Gaustad and Rob Niedermayer. In response, Twitter servers nearly melted from the assault of "Mike Grier???!?!?!?!?!" tweets, and half a day later I'm still happily dumbfounded.
- Jochen Hecht scored. On a one-timer. Yes, that Jochen Hecht. The same one who whiffs on that one-timer every. single. time.
- Cody McCormick scored. Yes, that Cody McCormick. The same one who seems to have been finding ways to get himself in great scoring position all season long. (Wait, I think I killed my theme here.) Like most folks, I hadn't cared for Cody McCormick's game lately - but his goal in the second that made it 2-1 was a prime example of what's made him so successful this year.
- Despite being held off the scoresheet and posting a -2, I thought Nathan Gerbe was great in this game. He made a couple nice plays, most notably when he kept the puck in at the blue line, danced around a Senator,and fed Patrick Kaleta down low for a one-touch pass to Chris Butler, resulting in a great scoring chance. Gerbe has, at the very least, started to prove some of his doubters wrong. Although he's not all the way there yet, I like where his game is headed. I think he fits in very nicely on a line with Kaleta and Cody McCormick because he isn't afraid to get dirty at all. If only everyone on the roster played with his tenacity...
- The first goal Ottawa scored was just plain ugly. I did not like that it happened after a Sabres 4-on-1, I didn't like that Tyler Myers got himself caught, and I didn't like that all three Sabres forwards coasted to the bench afterwards as Spezza took off the other way. But to note that this was the only cringe-inducing event in the game is, I suppose, a good thing.