Here are five keys to the game:
1.) ERIK KARLSSON- SABRES
The Sabres will need to be aware when defenseman Erik Karlsson is on the ice. He can act as a fourth forward on the ice, and will join in the play on the offensive side of the puck. Karlsson isn’t afraid to shoot the puck, nor is he afraid to lead a rush up the ice. The defenseman can also dish out the puck and set up his teammates. Karlsson is among the leaders on the Senators in assists and points.
2.) PUCK MOVEMENT- SABRES
The Sens will get in the way of the puck and block shots. They will get their sticks and bodies in the lanes and make it difficult to get pucks through to the goalies. The Sabres will need to have quick puck movement and pick their spots of when to shoot. Another way that the Sabres can erase the shot blocking of the Senators would be to use their speed through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.
3.) GET THE POWER PLAY GOING- SENATORS
Ottawa hasn’t exactly been the best on converting on the power play early in the season. They will need to take advantage of its power play chances and score some goals. The Sabres do have a decent penalty kill, but they will give up goals. The Senators will need to get pucks through to the net with traffic in front for some deflections since Robin Lehner has been playing well lately.
4.) GET THE FIRST GOAL- SENATORS
The Senators are a much better team when playing with the lead then trying to come from behind so they need to get the first goal. If Ottawa can manage to get the first goal of the game then they can take the home crowd out of the game, and maybe build on its lead. If the Senators can have the lead going into the third period then they have a good chance of winning the game.
5.) GOALTENDING- SABRES & SENATORS
The goalies will play a big part in the outcome of the game. If the Sabres’ starting goalie can make the saves that need to be made and make some highlight reel saves then they should be able to win the game. If the Senators’ starting goalie can make saves and not give up many rebound chances then the Sens have a decent shot at winning the game. The Sens and Sabres will both need to get traffic in front of the net for deflections and screens.