October 07, 2016 - 8:26 PM
OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators wrapped up their exhibition schedule with a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn't worried about his team heading into the regular season on a losing note.
With players having to adjust to his new system over the seven-game pre-season, Boucher said he's been pleased with the progress he's seen.
"I liked the push at the end and I liked the start too," Boucher said. "The first five minutes we had a good start. We came out playing a decent game where we finished pushing so you know when it's going to be time on Wednesday we're going to be pushing hard."
While the stat sheet might not favour the Senators, Boucher had asked his team to restrict the Sabres to 25 shots and they did just that for the first time this pre-season.
Boucher was also happy to have had the opportunity to get Mark Stone and Zack Smith in the lineup before the start of the regular season. Both missed significant time due to injuries.
Stone suffered a concussion during the first on-ice session and was getting his first game action.
"It was good to get a game in that's for sure," said Stone. "I'm learning a new system so it was different for me. I made a few mistakes, which was to be expected. The legs weren't all there, but I haven't played a game in four months so it was nice to get one in."
The Sabres made the most of the Senators' struggles as Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart, Marcus Foligno and Derek Grant scored while Robin Lehner stopped 30 shots.
"I do like the close out of the pre-season and I like doing it winning," Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said. "We've played a few games where we played good hockey and closed out and won hockey games on the road and that's exactly how we want to play."
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Turris scored for the Senators. Craig Anderson, playing just his second game of the pre-season, made 21 saves.
Poor defensive coverage allowed the Sabres to take a 4-1 lead in the third as Kane found a bouncing puck in the crease and put it past Anderson. Turris cut the lead in half midway through the period, giving the 14,216 on hand something to cheer about.
Buffalo got out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period, when Foligno, taking advantage of Erik Karlsson getting caught up ice, beat Anderson high glove side. Then Grant, a former Ottawa prospect, made the most of a turnover to beat Anderson shorthanded to take a 3-0 lead.
Pageau finally got the Senators on the board as he beat Lehner off his backhand thanks to some strong work behind the net by Tom Pyatt.
"I think we did a lot of good things," said Karlsson. "The goals we gave up unfortunately were puck bounces and odd-man rushes, which are unfortunately going to happen in a game, but I don't think they created anything on their own to win this game so I think we're pleased where we're at right now."
Ottawa had a scare late in the first as Mark Borowiecki took a puck in the throat and immediately went to the dressing room. Borowiecki was back on the bench for the start of the second.
The Sabres opened the scoring midway through the first as Reinhart tipped Casey Nelson's shot from the point.
The Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night to open the regular season.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016