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Sabres-Senators Preview

The Associated Press

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean doesn't seem to be overly concerned about his team's faltering offense.

Perhaps returning home has given him some extra confidence.

The Senators go for their first season-opening five-game home point streak since the 2000-01 season when they renew their Northeast Division rivalry with the struggling Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

With top-line center Jason Spezza out the last four games - and sidelined indefinitely - with a herniated disk, the Senators (5-3-1) are going to need Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, captain Daniel Alfredsson and others to step up. That hasn't happened in the last two games, with the club notching one total goal in back-to-back road losses to Carolina and Montreal.

"You are going to go through times like this," MacLean said Monday, a day after a 2-1 loss to the Canadiens. "Are we worried about it? We're scared to death each day about playing the next game. But at the same time I think offensively we've created opportunities. But I think we're a little bit tight in that department. ... We just need to relax and play our game and the goals will come."

The Senators are hoping to get a spark from center Stephane Da Costa, who was called up Sunday after registering 24 points in 31 games for AHL Binghamton. MacLean said he expects him to make his season debut as Ottawa begins a four-game homestand that ends next Tuesday against Buffalo (3-5-1).

The Senators have outscored their opponents 13-4 while posting a 3-0-1 home record. Ottawa hasn't opened with points in its first five on home ice since going 4-0-0 with two ties in 2000-01.

Buffalo has won six of seven at Ottawa but arrives with one victory in its last seven games. The Sabres are trying to regroup after giving up the final three goals in a 4-3 home loss to Florida on Sunday.

"If you look at some of the point-blank opportunities, I would shake my head last night and I didn't sleep well," coach Lindy Ruff said after Monday's practice. "... I'm a little above disbelief."

The Sabres' power play needs plenty of work - the club is 3 for 26 since going 3 for 6 opening night - and former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller has given up four goals in each of the last four games.

One positive has been the play of left wing Thomas Vanek, who was named the NHL's first star Monday. He's scored in all eight games he's played in and is among the league's best with eight goals and 11 assists after he and center Cody Hodgson both scored and set up two goals Sunday.

"(My quick start) adds up to a losing record, so I have to do more too," Vanek said.

Vanek had no goals and two assists in five games against Ottawa last season.

The Sabres will face goaltender Craig Anderson, who will make a sixth consecutive start. Anderson, 5-2-1 with a 1.12 goals-against average, posted a 1.62 GAA while winning his last three starts versus Buffalo in 2011-12.

Ottawa is trying to extend its point streak in this matchup to five.

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