After learning Spezza will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a knee injury, the Senators look to regroup Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place, where they’ll try to win their sixth straight over the surging Buffalo Sabres.
Spezza scored the tying goal early in the third period Monday but Ottawa lost 3-2 at Toronto, and he left the game with less than a minute remaining after Maple Leafs center Lee Stempniak(notes) ran into his right knee. An MRI later revealed he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament.
“I felt something pop,” Spezza told the Senators’ official Web site. “Then I tried to get up and skate and had no power, so I knew something was wrong and I went right off.”
With forwards Chris Neil(notes) and Shean Donovan(notes) already out with knee injuries, Ottawa will have Jesse Winchester(notes) skate on the first line with captain Daniel Alfredsson(notes) and Milan Michalek(notes).
Spezza had been off to a slow start with five goals and 14 assists, but he scored for the second straight game Monday and is a three-time 30-goal scorer.
“Any time one of your top offensive guys goes down, it leaves a little bit of a hole,” said Alfredsson, who leads the Senators with 21 assists and 30 points. “But we’ll keep plugging along. Everybody’s got to chip in a little bit more.”
While Ottawa (16-12-4) is 5-8-1 on the road, it owns one of the Eastern Conference’s best home records at 11-4-3.
The Senators have won four straight and nine of 11 at home versus Buffalo, including a 5-3 victory Nov. 21 in the teams’ lone matchup this season. Ottawa has won the last five meetings overall, scoring eight power-play goals.
The Northeast Division-leading Sabres (20-9-2) return to Scotiabank Place riding their fourth four-game winning streak of the season. They haven’t won five in a row in one season since a 6-0-0 stretch from Dec. 12-22, 2007.
Buffalo, closing a three-game road trip, won its fourth straight away from home Monday with a 4-3 victory over Montreal.
Clarke MacArthur(notes) scored the game-winner on the power play with 5:19 remaining. The Canadiens had tied it twice in the third period, including a goal by Michael Cammalleri(notes) 18 seconds after Tim Kennedy(notes) gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead with 7:27 left.
“The one thing you really hate as a team is to give up a goal right after you score, and we did that,” said coach Lindy Ruff, whose Sabres have won eight of 10. “But I thought we stayed grounded after that and went back to work.”
Ryan Miller(notes), who leads the NHL with a 1.88 goals-against average, could make his first start of the season against Ottawa. Former Senator Patrick Lalime(notes) made 21 saves in the Nov. 21 loss.
Miller is 4-6-1 with a 2.98 GAA in 10 career games in Ottawa.
Brian Elliott(notes) will likely make his 13th consecutive start for the Senators with Pascal Leclaire(notes) still sidelined by a fractured cheekbone. Elliott is 5-0-0 with a 2.27 GAA lifetime versus Buffalo, including a win this season as he made 14 saves in the third period after Leclaire left with a lower-body injury.
Alfredsson had two goals and an assist in that matchup. He has four straight multipoint games versus the Sabres, giving him 35 goals and 39 assists in 72 games against them.